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Criminal Law and Procedure

1988

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Full-Text Articles in Law

Proving The Defendant's Bad Character, Bennett L. Gershman Jan 1988

Proving The Defendant's Bad Character, Bennett L. Gershman

Pace Law Faculty Publications

The classic study of the American jury shows that when a defendant's criminal record is known and the prosecution's case has weaknesses, the defendant's chances of acquittal are thirty-eight percent, compared to sixty-five percent otherwise. Because of the danger that jurors will assume that the defendant is guilty based on proof that his bad character predisposes him to an act of crime, the courts and legislatures have attempted to circumscribe the use of such evidence. Some prosecutors, however, although well aware of the insidious effect such prejudicial evidence can have on jurors, violate the rules of evidence ...