The jury trial, which is a hallmark of the Anglo-American adversary system, requires close attention to the evidence that it is permissible for the lay jurors to hear. No evidentiary issue has proved more contentious than the admissibility of witnesses’, especially defendants’, prior criminal history because of concern that the lay jurors might prejudicially infer present guilt from past criminality. This article explains the complex evidentiary rules for admitting criminal history to prove guilt and to impeach witness credibility. It suggests that inquisitorial trial procedure, which historically has been unconcerned that judges know about the defendant’s prior criminal history while they are determining present guilt may have to restrict admissibility of such evidence as lay juries become more common.
Cite this paper
J. Jacobs, "Admissibility of the Defendant’s Criminal Records at Trial," Beijing Law Review, Vol. 4 No. 3, 2013, pp. 120-127. doi: 10.4236/blr.2013.43015.
 18 U.S.C. § 922 (2006). It shall be unlawful for any person… who has been convicted in any court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year… to … possess in or affecting commerce, any firearm or ammunition; or to receive any firearm or ammunition which has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce.
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 Fed. R. Evid. 404(b) Evidence may be admissible for another purpose, such as proving motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, absence of mistake, or lack of accident.
 Fed. R. Evid. 413 In a criminal case in which the defendant is accused of sexual assault, evidence of the defendant’s commission of another offense or offenses of sexual assault is admissible, and may be considered for its bearing on any matter to which it is relevant.
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 Fed. R. Evid.414, In a criminal case in which the defendant is accused of an offense of child molestation, evidence of the defendant’s commission of another offense or offenses of child molestation is admissible, and may be considered for its bearing on any matter to which it is relevant.
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 United States v. Connelly, 874 F.2d 412, 416 (7th Cir. 1989). Similar act evidence offered on this theory—that the prior and charged offenses are so strikingly similar that the same person or persons probably had a hand in both—is frequently admitted under the identity exception to Rule 404(b), but is commonly referred to and offered as modus operandi evidence.
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 United States v. Doe, 935 F. Supp. 478 (S.D.N.Y. 1996). Granting the defendant an expungement based in part on the significant negative impact of defendant’s prior conviction on his ability to find gainful employment for the past twenty years.
 United States v. Gabe, 237 F.3d 954 (8th Cir. 2001).
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 United States v. Johnson, 458 F. App'x 727, 728 (10th Cir. 2012). The prosecution sought to introduce evidence that, on a prior occasion, Johnson grabbed a female clerk's buttocks, and then pressed his crotch against the female clerk’s buttocks while making a sexual comment and touching her breasts with his hands.
 United States v. Richardson, 764 F.2d 1514, 1522 (11th Cir. 1985).
 United States v. Rogers, 587 F.3d 816, 822 (7th Cir. 2009). Rule 404(b) identifies the propensity inference as improper in all circumstances, and Rule 413 makes and exception to that rule when past sexual offenses are introduced in sexual assault cases.
 United States v. Simon, 453 F.2d 111, 115 (8th Cir. 1971). Once the defense has introduced the entrapment or procuring agent defense, the Government may proceed with relevant evidence to the contrary.
 United States v. Williams, 238 F.3d 871 (7th Cir. 2001). Holding that evidence of prior bad acts to prove knowledge and intent elements of a criminal offense is admissible even though defendant had offered to stipulate to these mental elements.
 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, Pub. L. No.103-322, §320935(a), 108 Stat. 1796, 2135-37 (codified at 42 U.S.C. §§ 13,701 et seq.).
 Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Regions Bank Trust Dept., 347 Ark. 826 (2002). We conclude that, in the absence of a finding that [defendant] had been rehabilitated, the trial court’s decision to exclude evidence of her conviction under Rule 609(c) was erroneous.
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