A person charged with a "subsequent offense" is being charged with a crime and has been previously convicted of the same or similar crime, one or more times.
In Massachusetts, depending on the crime, you may be convicted of a subsequent offense even if your prior conviction comes from a different state, so long as the previous crime has the same or similar elements as the current crime. This happens most frequently in OUI cases.
For example, if you were found guilty, plead guilty, or given a CWOF in the past (no matter how long ago) for Possession with Intent to Distribute Drugs, and you are charged with the same crime (even if the drugs are different), you will be charged as a subsequent offender.
Being charged as a subsequent offender means that you are exposed to a greater punishment, sometimes a "mandatory-minimum" sentence. In the case of drug distribution, some subsequent offense charges carry mandatory-minimum sentences.
An Illustration: a person convicted of Possession with Intent to Distribute, Class A (Heroin), Subsequent Offense must be sentenced to at least 3 1/2 years in state prison. That person may not received parole or good time; he/she must serve every day of that sentence.
At a trial, the jury may not hear that the defendant is charged with a subsequent offense. In most cases, the jurors may not hear about a defendant's criminal record at all; allowing them to do so would prejudice the defendant. The defendant has the right to a separate trial to determine if indeed he/she has been previously convicted.
Some common subsequent offense crimes are: OUI, Shoplifting, Possession with Intent to Distribute, Possession of Firearm, Stalking, Violation of a Restraining Order, and Failure to Register as a Sex Offender.
If you or a loved one currently are charged as a subsequent offender, call Attorney Henry Fasoldt. He has represented numerous people charged with subsequent offense crimes. Recently, he was successful in getting a charge reduced where his client was charged with Stalking, subsequent offense: Stalking, Second Offense - Charges Reduced