A person’s prior convictions can come back to haunt them.

A prior criminal conviction can be used as evidence against someone during the trial on a new charge, under certain circumstances.

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Even Misdemeanor Convictions Might Be Admissible

A prior conviction can be used against a defendant at trial or in a hearing in certain circumstances. The United States Supreme Court ruled that the prosecution could discredit a defendant with a prior 15-year-old misdemeanor conviction for filing a false name to a police officer.

The rules of evidence apply a balancing test to determine the use of prior convictions. The court decided, “[w]here a prior conviction is more than 10 years old, the conviction should be rarely admitted and only if the court finds that the probative value substantially outweighs the prejudicial effect. In making this assessment, the court must consider the following: (1) the impeachment value; (2) the point in time of the conviction and the witness’ subsequent history; (3) the similarity between the crime and the current charge; (4) the importance of the witness’ testimony; and (5) the centrality of the credibility issue.”

The Supreme Court determined that this prior offense should not have been used in this particular case because it was 15 years old; however, the error was considered “harmless” because there was substantial other evidence of guilt.

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LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. is the Premier Criminal Defense Law Firm in Michigan. We can help clients with evidence concerns, such as whether a prior conviction should properly be introduced as evidence. Our lawyers have the expertise and credibility to persuade judges that evidence should not legally be admitted into court.

If you, or someone you know, is charged with a crime or facing possible charges, you must have the best lawyers available to represent you and protect you. The firm’s attorneys are well known and well respected. The attorneys with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. have devoted their entire professional lives to making sure that people facing criminal charges are given the most powerful and effective defense available. Our firm is considered the “go-to” law firm when there is trouble.

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