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Attorney Katherine A. Gonos
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The impact of prior convictions on potential sentences

On Behalf of | Apr 26, 2024 | Criminal Defense |

In the state of Georgia, prior convictions can have a significant impact on the potential sentences that defendants may face in criminal cases. However, it is important to note that a worse sentence is not always a foregone conclusion, as each case is unique, and judges have discretion in sentencing.

Factors impacting a defendant’s sentencing

The impact of prior convictions on potential sentences can vary based on several factors. These factors include the severity of the prior conviction, the length of time since the prior conviction, and whether the prior conviction was for the same or a similar offense. The state’s sentencing guidelines consider these factors when determining an appropriate sentence.

Specific sentencing guidelines

In addition to the sentencing guidelines, the state has specific laws that enhance sentences for repeat offenders. For example, Georgia’s “Three Strikes” law mandates a lengthy prison sentence for individuals who are convicted of three serious violent felonies.

Additionally, motor laws in the state define a defendant as a “habitual violator” after three prior convictions. This can result in longer sentences for individuals who have been convicted of multiple traffic offenses.

Possible mitigating factors

Despite the existence of these criminal laws and guidelines, note that judges are not necessarily bound by mandatory minimums or sentencing guidelines. For example, judges may consider mitigating factors like a defendant’s:

  • Age
  • Mental Health
  • Prior rehabilitation efforts

Build a strong defense

Overall, while prior convictions can have a significant impact on potential sentences in criminal cases, it is important to remember that each case is unique. Defendants should work closely with their attorneys to understand the potential consequences of any prior convictions and to develop a strong defense strategy that takes these factors into account.