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Questions for Your Delaware Criminal Attorney About Habitual Offender Charges


All crimes in Delaware are more serious when the offender has a history of criminal convictions, whether the charges become more severe or the punishment is enhanced. However, with some cases, primarily those involving drug crimes and violent offenses, the stakes are much higher for the defendant. You could be labeled as a habitual criminal under Delaware law, a statute that provides for up to life in prison for some offenses.

Under the circumstances, you can see that retaining legal counsel is critical if you could attain habitual criminal status through a current case. It is equally important to talk to an attorney if you are already designated and are facing additional charges. As you are looking into candidates, there are some important questions to ask your Wilmington habitual offender status lawyer.

What penalties do I face if convicted as a habitual criminal? The sentencing varies depending on several factors, but you can get a grasp of how it works by looking at the class of crime.

  • A fourth felony conviction or a conviction for a third violent felony could lead to life in prison.
  • With three felonies in your history, your fourth felony could be sentenced to half the maximum allowed by law.
  • If you have two nonviolent felonies and a violent felony conviction on your record, a fourth violent felony is the maximum sentence.

Are there defenses to the charges? The facts of the case may allow for a wide range of defenses, and there are many available for violent felonies and drug offenses. Often, these cases involve illegal search and seizure, where police violate your constitutional rights under the Fourth Amendment. Your lawyer can explain how defenses could benefit your position.

 What are the strengths and weaknesses in my case? There are facts and legal issues that favor your side, while others may not. Of course, the prosecution also faces the same predicament. However, because the government has the burden of proof, you have many opportunities to exploit weaknesses. Any issue that raises a reasonable doubt in the mind of the jury could lead to an acquittal.

 Should I attempt a plea bargain or go to trial? Habitual criminals are often sentenced according to maximum and minimum sentencing, which means the judge cannot change the terms. Some cases may not be successful as far as plea bargaining for this reason, but there are strategies for defending your interests. You may even want to go to trial if you have strong evidence of your innocence.

Discuss Habitual Offender Status with a Delaware Criminal Defense Attorney

These are helpful questions to ask when you are reviewing your options for legal representation, but you certainly would like additional details about your case. To learn more about how habitual criminal cases work, please contact Attorney Michael W. Modica. You can call 302.600.1262 or check out our website to set up a consultation at our Wilmington, DE office. Our team serves New Castle County in a range of criminal cases, so we are prepared to assist.

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