Recidivism is the legal term for when one person breaks the same type of law more than once. Those arrested once for a crime could end up prosecuted again for a similar offense in the future. And if that happens, the potential consequences they might face could escalate.
Certain kinds of criminal charges have a stronger association with repeat offenses than others, and those accused of violating Pennsylvania state statutes could very well end up prosecuted for the same kind of offense multiple times. Those facing repeat criminal charges in the same area may worry about what repeat prosecution will mean for their futures.
A repeat offense may limit certain defense strategies
When someone already has a record of driving while drunk or violating state drug laws, they may have more limits on the criminal strategy that they utilize in court. However, just because someone has a prior record does not automatically make them guilty of every new accusation that the state brings. People may need to more carefully plan their defense strategy but can still theoretically defend against allegations of repeat criminal infractions successfully.
It may increase the penalties
The state tends to impose harsher penalties on those accused of violating the same law repeatedly. Driving under the influence (DUI) charges are a great example of this practice. A first DUI with no aggravating factors usually leads to six months probation and a $300 fine. However, someone with a prior DUI on their record will lose their driver’s license for a year, spend between five days and six months in jail and pay up to $2,500 in fines. They will also have to drive with an ignition interlock device (IID) in their vehicle for a year after getting their license back.
Sometimes, those accused of a second or third offense following a prior conviction give up and tell themselves that a guilty plea is the only right option. Still, they may have many opportunities to reduce the penalties that they may face. For example, an established history of violating drug or alcohol laws might improve someone’s chances of securing pretrial diversion through specialty courts.
Ultimately, responding in informed ways to allegations of breaking the same law multiple times may benefit those who want to minimize the consequences of an alleged repeat offense. Seeking legal guidance proactively can be helpful in this regard.