Don’t Let Your Past Mistakes Haunt Your Future
Video Transcribed: Hi, I’m Stuart Ericson, a lawyer in Oklahoma, and today we’re going to talk about, what is the impact of a prior felony conviction in Oklahoma.
So if you have a prior felony conviction, obviously it could just limit your rights in general. Rights to serve on a jury, and to vote, obviously could impact your future employment, possessing or owning a firearm. So, all sorts of things can just affect you in your general life. Now, if another crime is committed or allegedly committed by a person with a prior felony conviction, two big things are important. Number one is, prior convictions might be used at trial. So, let’s say you have a prior felony conviction and you are charged with a new crime and you wish to testify at your trial.
Your prior felony conviction can be used against you to, quote, unquote, “impeach you,” which is to say, it’s just something under the law, where the jury can question your credibility, question whether you’re telling the truth because you’re a prior-convicted felon. And it goes like this. So, if you testify, usually your defense attorney knowing that this is going to happen will just front it out in the beginning. So you’ll say, “I’d call my client to the stand.” He takes the stand, “State your name,” and then I would just get it out before the prosecutor can and say, “Have you ever been convicted of a felony?” And he would say, “Yes. I have.” “Okay.” “It was five years ago for passing a bogus check.”
Now, if the defense attorney didn’t front that out and just give that information to the jury, the first cross-examination question would be, “Hey, Mr. Smith. Have you ever been convicted of a felony?” And then, all of a sudden, guess what? The jury perks up and goes, “Oh, wow! This person’s already been convicted of a felony. Now they’re accused of this. Once a felon, always a felon.” Now, that’s something for the defense attorney to deal with at your trial, something that would be discussed with anybody before they testify. But that is a potential consequence of having a prior felony conviction. It can be used against you to impeach your credibility in any future criminal proceeding.
The other way it’s going to affect a potential future criminal case is punishment. Prior felony convictions are used in statutes to increase or enhance punishment. And the statutes differ. If there’s one prior felony conviction then the punishment can be increased to this. If there are two or more felony convictions, then this. And, again, the law is very clear on how many prior convictions, but also what is the new alleged offense? And what are the old offenses? So all those things are just spelled out in the law as to how prior felony convictions can be used to increase punishment against you.
Now, if you’re charged with a future crime, the state does have to allege and prove that you have those prior felony convictions. And it’s called a second page or supplemental information. So, you’re charged with criminal information. On page two, they would list your prior felony convictions, the state that it occurred in, the date of the conviction, what the conviction was for, and what your sentence was. And, of course, that does have to be proven. But, it will affect your ability to testify and it also could increase punishment. So, if you have questions about that, reach out to me, Stuart Ericson, a criminal defense attorney in Wagoner County at wagonerlawyer.com.