The specific criminal charges that someone accused of a statutory violation in Louisiana might face depend on multiple variables. Prosecutors will base the charges they pursue on what they believe they can prove in court.
The discretion of public officials doesn’t end there. There are certain factors that could lead to more serious criminal charges and (potentially) more significant penalties. The following concerns tend to influence how the courts handle someone’s case.
Their prior criminal record
One of the most important factors that can lead to the escalation of criminal charges and penalties is the personal criminal history of the defendant. The more serious offenses someone has in their record, the more likely a prosecutor is to seek more serious charges against an individual. A history of multiple major infractions will also likely influence the sentence the judge hands down, as they can consider numerous relevant factors when sentencing someone according to state guidelines.
The presence of aggravating factors
Certain unique details can make a situation more problematic in the eyes of the state. For example, someone accused of an assault could face aggravated assault charges that carry harsher penalties if they assaulted someone while in possession of a deadly weapon. Charges ranging from violent crimes to impaired driving allegations could become more serious because of the presence of aggravating factors. Aggravating factors are often elements that could lead to a far worse outcome for the people involved in the situation, and the courts must consider them along with any mitigating factors that might raise questions about someone’s intent at the time of the crime.
Trends and victim statements
In some scenarios, the Louisiana criminal courts will adopt harsher penalties and a more strident approach to prosecution as a response to changes in trends across the state. Judges and prosecutors may be harsher about drugs that currently seem particularly dangerous, like fentanyl. Statements made by the parties affected by the crime could also have a profound impact on how the courts view the situation and punish the defendants.
Reviewing a case with an attorney for factors that could worsen or complicate criminal proceedings may benefit those preparing to defend against pending charges in Louisiana criminal court.