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The impact of prior convictions on sentencing in Missouri

On Behalf of | May 23, 2024 | Criminal Defense |

Prior convictions play a big role in Missouri’s criminal justice system. They affect how judges decide sentences and penalties. These include prior convictions or plea deals for crimes like misdemeanors, felonies, and even juvenile offenses.

Types of prior convictions affecting sentencing

Not all prior convictions impact sentencing in the same way. Missouri’s legal system sorts these convictions to see how they affect new cases. Past felony convictions, especially those involving violence or weapons, lead to harsher penalties for new charges. Having several misdemeanors results in stricter penalties, especially if they’re related to similar crimes. People with many convictions may get labeled as habitual offenders, leading to more severe sentences under Missouri’s repeat offender laws.

How prior convictions influence sentencing

Prior convictions lead to:

  • Longer prison terms.
  • Higher fines.
  • Stricter probation rules.
  • Minimum sentences that increase with prior convictions for certain crimes like those involving drugs or firearms.
  • Fewer good plea deals offered by prosecutors to people with many past convictions.

Legal strategies to reduce the impact of prior convictions

Defendants can use different strategies to lessen the impact of prior convictions on sentencing. These strategies include challenging past convictions by arguing that past convictions were wrong or should not count due to mistakes. They can seek expungement for eligible crimes to remove prior convictions from the record. Showing positive changes like completing rehab programs or holding steady jobs can help convince judges to give lighter sentences.

Understanding the broader impact

By understanding how prior convictions affect sentencing, people can better prepare for legal challenges and aim for better outcomes in their cases. Prior offenses don’t only impact your record, but your options and defenses in the future.