Prior Convictions Used As Evidence

Can a prior conviction be used against you? The answer is it depends. Judges routinely permit the introduction of this highly prejudicial information, despite its tendency to result in wrongful convictions.

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Can a prior conviction be used against you in a criminal case?

In the case of United States v Carter, decided in March 2015, the United States District Court held that a prior conviction for distributing the drug suboxone was not probative of an intent to manufacture methamphetamine and could not be used to discredit Mr. Carter. The prosecutor intended to show that Mr. Carter previously distributed drugs, so he is likely guilty of manufacturing meth. The court decided that the prior conviction was entirely unrelated and not admissible. The Court of Appeals reversed Mr. Carter’s conviction.

Rule of Evidence 404(b)

The federal and Michigan Courts have an evidence rule (404B) that allows for using prior convictions against a defendant under certain circumstances to challenge the defendant’s credibility. Interpreting this evidence rule can give the “average” attorney nightmares. Because judges are so eager to help prosecutors with the admission of evidence, you should NEVER use an “average” attorney when your freedom is at stake. Finding the right lawyer is not like finding the cheapest pair of shoes. “You get what you pay for” is never more true when hiring an attorney. You want an experienced, highly respected, prepared, aggressive, and passionate attorney. Whether a prior conviction can be used against you might come down to the quality of the defense lawyer protecting and defending you in court.

Why do prosecutors want to introduce evidence of the defendant’s prior convictions?

In determining whether a prosecutor can use a prior conviction against you, it is helpful to understand why prosecutors want to use this type of evidence first. Prosecutors often seek to introduce evidence of a defendant’s prior convictions to demonstrate a pattern of behavior, suggest a propensity for committing the crime in question, or undermine the defendant’s credibility, especially if they testify. This evidence can be particularly persuasive in showing motive, intent, or lack of mistake in the current charges. However, such evidence must be balanced against the risk of unfair prejudice to the defendant, and specific legal standards govern its admissibility to ensure a fair trial.

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How to Stop a Prosecutor from Using a Prior Conviction Against You

Criminal defense lawyers employ several strategies to prevent prosecutors from using prior convictions against their clients at trial. They may argue that the prejudicial effect of such evidence outweighs its probative value, underlining its potential to influence the jury unfairly. They can also challenge the relevance of the prior convictions to the current case, asserting that they are not indicative of the defendant’s character or likelihood to commit the current offense. Additionally, they may file pre-trial motions to exclude this evidence based on legal rules governing the admissibility of prior bad acts or convictions.

Is it more or less important for someone with previous convictions to hire an experienced, retained criminal defense attorney?

Hiring an experienced, retained criminal defense attorney is typically more important for someone with previous convictions. Experienced attorneys are better equipped to navigate the complexities of the legal system, especially when prior convictions could negatively impact the case. They can provide more specialized and focused defense strategies, which is crucial in cases where past convictions might be used to influence a judge or jury. The depth of knowledge and skill that an experienced attorney brings can be pivotal in managing the additional challenges posed by a client’s criminal history.

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Michigan criminal defense attorneys who are not afraid to win.

Can a prior conviction be used against you? If the attorneys at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. have anything to say, the answer is NO!! LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. takes great pride in fighting for our clients and protecting them from governmental abuses. The prosecutors and police will pull out all the stops and tricks to charge you with a crime and convict you. The government will aggressively prosecute and seek punishment, so you need a savvy, experienced, poised, and passionate advocate fighting for you in your corner. Police and prosecutors respect the attorneys of LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. However, they do not enjoy seeing our attorneys on the other side of the courtroom against them.

Our attorneys come prepared and come to win. If you have any questions or are facing criminal charges, call LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. for a free consultation. We will take the time to talk with you, answer your questions, and address your concerns.

Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete an online Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.

We will find a way to help you and, most importantly,
we are not afraid to win!

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