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Prior Criminal Conviction Evidence in San Diego Criminal Trials
There are couple rules of evidence that can exclude prior convictions. These rules were enacted because the legislators do not want the defendant prior convictions to be on trial. The court wants the jury to focus on the alleged crime the defendant is charged at trial. These rules are FRE 609, 404, 403. Let’s focus on FRE 609.
FRE states (a) states in relevant, in part, for a crime that, in the convicting jurisdiction, was punishable by death or by imprisonment for more than one year, the evidence must be admitted in a criminal case in which the witness is a defendant, if the probative value of the evidence outweighs its prejudicial effect to that defendant. FED. R. EVID. (a)(1)(B). The sentence of the prior conviction must be over a year in order to be admitted into evidence.
Regarding the probative value of the evidence, the Ninth Circuit has outlined five factors it uses to consider whether the probative value outweighs its prejudicial effect on the accused. United States v Browne, 829 F.2d 760, 762-763(9th Cir. 1987). These five factors include: “(1) the impeachment value of the prior crime; (2) the point in time of the conviction and the witness’ subsequent history; (3) the similarity between the past crime and the charged crime; (4) the importance of the defendant’s testimony; and, (5) the centrality of the defendant’s credibility.” Id. The government bears the burden of showing that the evidence’s probative value outweighs its prejudicial effect. Id.
The impeachment value of the prior conviction goes into whether the crime is a crime of truth or honesty. If the defendant has a prior conviction that deals with truth or honesty, then that would weigh against him.
The Court weighs each factor evenly. The more factors a defendant could get in his favor the more likely the court could rule in his favor.
If you have questions about prior convictions being used in your trial, contact San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney Vik Monder at 619.405.0063 or visit Prior Criminal Conviction Attorney