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How can the State Attorney’s Office prove prior convictions?

In order to prove prior convictions, the State Attorney’s Office will generally rely on fingerprints of folks from prior convictions.  As we’ve discussed elsewhere on our Tampa criminal attorney blog, many charges and sentencing issues require the State Attorney’s Office to prove prior convictions of a criminal defendant.  For example, in order to convict someone as a prison release reoffender, it’s necessary for the state to show that the party was actually convicted of the alleged offense and the proper release date for the accused. More often than not, parties stipulate and/or agree that it is, in fact, the named criminal defendant on the judgment and sentence is the same person as the individual in the courtroom.  In some instances, though, it’s necessary for the individual to challenge the identity of the person on the judgment sentence, especially if it is not necessarily them.  This is the most common means for the State Attorney’s Office to prove prior convictions.

In these instances, the State Attorney’s Office will use a certified judgment sentence which more often than not involves a copy of the named defendant’s fingerprints.  If you’ve spent any time in a Florida courtroom, you’ll always notice that after an individual is convicted of a felony, they immediately are fingerprinted in the courtroom by a bailiff.  If the state is forced to prove up these prior convictions to link up the identity of the named party, they will utilize the experience and skills of a fingerprint analysis technician to compare the fingerprints on the certified judgment sentence to those of the individual accused in the courtroom.  Obviously, more often than not, they are going to link up the fingerprints, otherwise the State Attorney’s Office would certainly not bring up those charges. Again, in our experience, if you’re going to challenge the authenticity of those convictions, it is necessary to ensure it is a good faith challenge because otherwise you run the risk of wasting significant judicial resources drawing frustration and ill will from the Court, jury and/or State Attorney’s Office.  Our Tampa Criminal Defense Attorneys though have significant experience in challenging the State’s ability to prove prior convictions.

If you have questions relating to the State Attorney’s Office’s attempt to prove prior convictions to either enhance your charges and/or sentences, contact the Tampa criminal attorneys of Hackworth Law for a free case consultation.  We’ve handled thousands of criminal matters throughout the Tampa Bay area and work hard to ensure our clients’ rights are protected especially in matters involving enhanced sentences such as prison release reoffenders, habitual felony offenders, violent felons of special concern, etc. If you would like to contact one of our Tampa criminal attorneys immediately, please use the “contact us now” tab in the upper right-hand corner of our website.  We appreciate your taking the time to check out our Tampa criminal attorney blog and look forward to working with you in the future.