Can a prosecutor bring up a defendant’s prior arrests/convictions in front of the jury without the defendant being on the witness stand?

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Can a prosecutor bring up a defendant’s prior arrests/convictions in front of the jury without the defendant being on the witness stand?

Also can the arresting officers discuss the case while in the hall way of the courthouse before going in to testify re: the same case?

Asked on July 17, 2010 under Criminal Law, California

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Generally not.  That is why so many defendants do not wish to take the stand in defense of their case.  Their "prior bad acts" can not be disclosed or used against them unless the defendant places their credibility in to issue, and that happens when they take the stand and testify on their own behalf.  As for the officers, that is a bad judgement call on their behalf and may fall under some disciplinary statute but it is not necessarily against the law.  Your attorney would best know how to handle the matter. It could be used to discredit the officer as to his or her independent recollection of the events. Speak with him or her.  Good luck.


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