The impact of a prior criminal history on a criminal case is a significant consideration for the courts in Maryland. A criminal record can affect the outcome of a case in several ways, including the severity of the sentence, the admissibility of evidence, and the credibility of witnesses. In this blog post, we will explore the impact of prior criminal history on Maryland criminal cases.
Impact of Prior Criminal History on Sentencing
A prior criminal record can have a significant impact on the sentence that a defendant receives in Maryland. The Maryland Sentencing Guidelines take into account a defendant’s prior criminal history when determining an appropriate sentence. The guidelines assign points for each prior conviction, and the total number of points determines the defendant’s criminal history score. The higher the criminal history score, the more severe the sentence is likely to be.
The guidelines also distinguish between “violent” and “non-violent” offenses. A defendant with a prior conviction for a violent offense is likely to receive a more severe sentence than a defendant with a prior conviction for a non-violent offense. However, the guidelines do not specify which offenses are considered “violent.” Instead, the determination is left to the judge’s discretion.
Impact of Prior Criminal History on Evidence
A prior criminal history can also affect the admissibility of evidence in a Maryland criminal case. The state’s Rules of Evidence allow a prosecutor to introduce evidence of a defendant’s prior criminal conduct under certain circumstances. For example, evidence of prior convictions may be admissible to impeach the credibility of a witness or to show a defendant’s motive or intent.
However, the rules also provide for the exclusion of evidence if its probative value is outweighed by the risk of unfair prejudice to the defendant. In other words, the judge must weigh the relevance of the evidence against the potential harm it may cause to the defendant’s case.
Impact of Prior Criminal History on Witness Credibility
A defendant’s prior criminal history can also affect the credibility of witnesses in a Maryland criminal case. The state’s Rules of Evidence allow a prosecutor to impeach the credibility of a witness by introducing evidence of the witness’s prior criminal convictions. The prosecutor may also introduce evidence of the witness’s “bad acts” if they are relevant to the witness’s credibility.
However, the rules also provide for the exclusion of evidence if its probative value is outweighed by the risk of unfair prejudice against the witness. In other words, the judge must weigh the relevance of the evidence against the potential harm it may cause to the witness’s credibility.
Additionally, it is important to note that Maryland is one of the few states in the U.S. that has a “three-strikes” law, which means that individuals who are convicted of a violent crime after having two previous convictions for violent crimes face a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole. This law highlights the significant impact that a prior criminal history can have on the outcome of a criminal case in Maryland.
Furthermore, it is important to understand that the impact of a prior criminal history is not limited to criminal cases in Maryland. A criminal record can have long-lasting consequences, including difficulty finding employment, obtaining housing, or even receiving financial aid for education. Therefore, it is crucial for individuals with a criminal record to work towards expungement or sealing their records to mitigate the impact of their past criminal history.
The impact of a prior criminal history on a criminal case in Maryland cannot be overstated. It is essential for individuals who are facing criminal charges to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help them understand the implications of their criminal record and work towards a favorable outcome in their case. Additionally, individuals with a criminal record should explore options for expungement or sealing of their records to minimize the long-term impact on their lives.
At Alpert Schreyer, LLC, we recognize the serious implications that a prior criminal history can have on an individual’s life, including employment, housing, and education opportunities. We believe that everyone deserves a second chance, and we work tirelessly to help our clients overcome the challenges associated with a criminal record.
Our attorneys have a deep understanding of Maryland criminal law, including the state’s “three-strikes” law, and we can help individuals who are facing mandatory life sentences due to a prior criminal history. We believe that every person deserves a fair and just trial, regardless of their past criminal record, and we are committed to fighting for our client’s rights and protecting their freedom.
If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges in Maryland, and you have concerns about the impact of a prior criminal history on the case, we can help. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help you navigate the criminal justice system and protect your rights.