When you are facing subsequent charges for child abuse, you may be wondering whether the previous conviction will be used against you to hurt you in the new case. Typically this type of information will not come in unless it can be shown that there is another reason for presenting the evidence other than to attack your character. For example, the evidence of the prior may come in to show a motive or a common plan or occurrence.
Recently, in the courts, an issue has arisen as to whether the prior is an element that the prosecutor must prove in order to show that this is your second or subsequent offense.
It turns out that the courts do not consider the proof of a second or subsequent offense to be a material element of the crime. Rather, the courts see it merely as a sentence enhancer. This is important because it keeps proof of your prior away from the jury until after they decide whether you are guilty or not guilty of the offense that you are being charged with. Then, if the jury finds you guilty, only then can the jury be allowed to know of your prior offense.
Because the court of appeals in Colorado has made it clear that priors cannot are not part of the new crime itself, you should expect prosecutors to try harder to bring in the evidence as proof of a motive or common plan. The prosecutors will do this, even when they do not believe it is part of a similar motive, because they are trying to smear your character in front of the jury. They know that if this evidence comes in, it is much more likely that the jury will find you guilty of the new offense. This type of character smearing happens all the time in Colorado courts and, as such, it is important that you talk about your priors with your Denver Criminal Defense Attorney to discuss the details of your prior and how they relate to your new case and how they are different from your new case.
Only by speaking with your attorney can you get a better idea of whether the prosecutor will be able to use your prior to smear your character and falsely convict you of the new crime.
If you have any questions about how priors can be used against you in a child abuse case and how you and your Colorado attorney can try to keep them out of your criminal case, you should contact Mountain Legal and schedule a free consultation.
The information in this post is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or as the creation of an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice, please contact an Attorney.