What Are Enhanceable Offenses?Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines the word enhance as “to increase or improve in value, quality, or attractiveness.” There are many things that many of us would like to enhance: beauty, health, intelligence, or quality of life. However, one thing many of us would not like enhanced are criminal offenses.

When you have been accused of committing a crime, you do not want to risk receiving harsher penalties for your offense in the event of a conviction. What many people do not realize is how easily their misdemeanor charge can enhance to a gross misdemeanor or felony. The Franklin criminal defense attorneys at Adrian H. Altshuler & Associates discuss enhanceable offenses and what they mean in today’s blog.

What are enhanceable offenses?

Enhanceable offenses are offenses where the severity of the person’s penalties increase based on specific factors. The actions and circumstances surrounding an alleged crime can upgrade an offense to a more serious charge. For example, a person who has been charged with driving under the influence (DUI) can be penalized with a license suspension of one year, a fine between $350 to $1,500, and jail time ranging from two days to 11 months. However, if the person has prior DUI convictions, the person can suffer more serious penalties.

The prosecutor ultimately makes the decision to enhance criminal penalties. Even though every situation is different, there are certain factors that can convince the prosecutor to enhance a person’s charges. Some of these criteria include:

  • Offender’s prior convictions. If a person has been charged with a criminal offense for the first time, they may face a lighter sentence or penalties. If a person has been convicted of a particular offense before, however, he or she is at risk of facing harsher penalties.
  • The presence of a weapon. A person who used a weapon while committing an offense is more likely to be charged with a more serious crime. In some cases, the mere presence of a weapon can increase charges from a simple misdemeanor to a gross misdemeanor or felony.
  • Whether a minor was involved. If someone is accused of committing a crime in the presence of a minor or involves a minor in the offense, that can also increase the severity of the charges. For example, committing a drug offense around a school is likely to result in enhanced charges.
  • Location where the offense took place. The location of the offense may also increase the severity of charges. If a crime occurs on federal property, the charge will automatically be upgraded to a felony.

What types of charges are enhanceable?

Some common charges that can be enhanced include:

  • DUIs. Having at least two or more DUI convictions can enhance charges to a third-degree felony.
  • Domestic violence. Domestic violence can include multiple acts, from assault to kidnapping. The penalties for domestic violence will enhance with the use of a weapon or previous convictions.
  • Theft. Even though theft is a misdemeanor, it can instantly be enhanced with the use of a weapon at any time during the offense. If the person has two or more prior convictions, their charge can increase to a third-degree felony.
  • Sexual assault of a minor. Sexual offenses against a minor are taken seriously, and prosecutors will attempt to enhance these charges to the fullest. Some sexual offenses against a minor that can be classified as first-degree felonies include the distribution of child pornography and aggravated sexual abuse.
  • Drug offenses. Drug offenses are one of the most common enhanceable offenses. The amount and type of drugs found on a person can determine whether the charges will be enhanced or not. The more serious the drug, the more serious the penalty.
  • Battery. Similar to domestic violence and DUI charges, a person’s battery charge can be enhanced based on previous convictions. Prior convictions can cause a battery charge to be enhanced to a third-degree felony charge or an aggravated battery charge.

How a Franklin criminal defense attorney can help

It can be devastating to be charged with a criminal offense. It can be even more devastating to discover that other circumstances can lead to longer prison time and other harsh penalties. When you or a loved one have been charged with a crime, you need a tough criminal defense attorney on your side. You need legal counsel who is diligent enough to present a compelling case in your favor. At The Law Offices of Adrian H. Altshuler & Associates, our criminal defense attorneys have the resources and aggression you need to protect your legal rights.

One of the ways that our criminal defense attorneys can help you is using our knowledge of criminal law to reduce the charges against you. While some felony charges can result in a plea bargain, many prosecutors take advantage of this fact and coerce defendants into accepting plea deals that do not favor them. An experienced criminal defense attorney can design the best course of action for you and negotiate the best solution that can help reduce your charges.

If your case proceeds to trial, a skilled criminal defense attorney can help defend you against the state. Prosecutors will sometimes pile charges on defendants  in an attempt to force them to accept a questionable plea bargain. A criminal defense attorney can employ multiple strategies for the best possible outcome for your case.

The Law Offices of Adrian H. Altshuler & Associates will work hard to protect your rights in criminal defense cases. We fight aggressively on your behalf to ensure that your future remains free and clear. Call us today at 615-977-9370, or complete our contact form to schedule your free consultation. We represent clients in Franklin, Columbia, and Brentwood.