Many people wonder whether in a federal criminal case it matters if a defendant has ever been convicted of a crime. Dallas Criminal Defense Attorney John Helms says it does.
Most federal prosecutors don’t drop charges because an individual doesn’t have a criminal past. This is because, “You don’t get to commit one free federal crime.”
Federal prosecutors usually don’t try cases where there isn’t enough evidence, so that they don’t use government resources unwisely. A federal defense lawyer has more of a chance to persuade a federal prosecutor not to try the case if the evidence isn’t strong or if there isn’t any real federal interest. The fact remains, an accused person’s first crime is usually not a reason for a prosecutor to drop a case.
However, this doesn’t mean that a clean record isn’t important. It is essential because it usually means a shorter sentence than if a defendant has been convicted of something before.
Federal Sentencing Guidelines, that judges must consider but don’t have to follow, take into consideration a clean record when recommending to a judge a range of time for a person’s sentence. They must consider the seriousness of the crime which categories a defendant’s Offense Level.
The Criminal History Category is a number between one and six. Category one means that the accused has no prior convictions or that it happened too long ago to matter. A defendant with a lower range number could be sentenced to less months that those in the other categories.
Federal crimes are very serious. A clean record can help, but it depends on the facts in the matter and how convincing a defendant’s lawyer is in attempting to get a lesser sentence.