First-time offenders will normally have an easier time resolving their criminal charges than somebody with a prior record. This is true for many offenses, with the exception of serious, violent charges that may carry prison time no matter what your prior record looks like.
Offenses such as DUI even have statutorily-prescribed mandatory minimum penalties for first-time offenders. Second and third DUI offenders will face harsher penalties.
So how can your prior record hurt you when you are facing criminal charges?
For one, you may "score" out to a state prison sentence. What this means is that a calculation is done based on your current charges and prior criminal charges. Depending on your priors, the score may be high enough to warrant a state prison sentence.
Furthermore, even if you don't "score" state prison with your priors, a prior criminal record will lead the prosecutor to seek a harsher sentence. This is likely reflected in the plea offer that is made. Whereas a first-time offender may be looking at a diversion program or a withhold of adjudication and probation, you may be looking at a conviction, house arrest, even jail or prison.
A prior record is nothing to take lightly, and when facing new charges, you need to be prepared for what could be a tough battle. If you have a prior criminal record and are facing criminal charges in Miami-Dade, Broward, or Palm Beach, contact me to discuss your options.