Monday, October 15, 2012

MBE Fast Fact: Character Evidence in Criminal Cases

On the MBE, it's essential to know the difference between the rules related to character evidence in a criminal case, and how those rules differ in respect to the prosecution and the defense.

Though the prosecution may not initially attempt to prove the defendant’s bad character to show that defendant acted in conformity with that character, the defense is entitled to use character evidence in presenting its case. Specificallty, the defense is permitted to offer character traits of the defendant inconsistent with the crimes charged. This is often stated as offering “good character evidence” of the defendant.

Offering such evidence does not, however, come without risks. Once the defendant’s character witness testifies as to his good character, the prosecution can rebut that testimony by cross-examining the witness regarding the witness’s knowledge of specific acts by the defendant that are inconsistent with that good character. The prosecution can also call its own witnesses (on direct examination) to testify as to the defendan’t bad character for the relevant trait(s) in question.

In other words, the defense will have opened the door, allowing the prosecution to now offer evidence that initially it could not have offered.


**Need additional help learning Evidence? My resource MBE Essentials: Evidence contains the essential information tested in Evidence on the MBE.

Buy Now

No comments:

Post a Comment