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Can the Prosecutor Use Proof of Your Past Crimes to Prove You’re Guilty?

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If you’ve been charged with a crime in California, there are certain things that the prosecutor isn’t allowed to use as evidence like past crimes. For the most part, the State will find a way to get evidence admitted. However, there are certain rules of evidence that protect defendants in court.

The reason this is important is that your San Diego criminal defense lawyer will need to exclude certain types of evidence. The more evidence they can get excluded from trial, the better your chances of getting acquitted.

While television makes it look like lawyers file a ton of objections in court, it doesn’t happen as often as you might think. The prosecutor knows what they’re allowed to use at trial. And your defense lawyer will know most of the State’s evidence ahead of time. This is because of something called discovery.

If the State does try to use evidence that is prohibited, your attorney will speak up. They’ll raise an objection in open court. If the judge lets in evidence that should be deemed inadmissible, your criminal defense attorney in San Diego can file an appeal.

Here is a breakdown of the important evidence rules that could affect your case. You should always contact an experienced defense attorney in case you have any questions about what evidence the State can use against you.

Hearsay is Not Allowed to Be Used at Trial

One of the most confusing rules of evidence is the hearsay rule. Even experienced attorneys can have a hard time deciding if certain things count as hearsay or not. It’s so important, some law professors spent an entire week or two talking about the rule.

Basically, you can’t use an out of court statement to prove the truth of the matter asserted. It’s better to explain using an example.

Let’s say John is charged with murder. John’s roommate tells his girlfriend that John came home one night and told him he had “taken care of his problem.” The next day, John’s girlfriend’s body is found in a dumpster.

The prosecutor wants to tell the jury what John told his roommate. However, since John’s roommate isn’t a witness, his girlfriend can’t testify in court about what the roommate told her.

Now – if the prosecutor wanted to prove what time John came home, they can try to use this statement to do that. For example, they may have the roommate’s girlfriend testify that she knew what time John came home. She testifies that her boyfriend texted her at 9:49 p.m. and said that John had just come home and said he had “taken care of his problem.”

If the prosecutor is using this testimony that proves that John got home at 9:49 p.m., the judge will allow it.

Character Evidence Can’t Be Used to Prove Guilt

One important rule of evidence has to do with character evidence – otherwise known as prior bad acts. The State can’t use evidence of your prior bad acts to prove that you committed the crime at hand.

Let’s say that you had been accused of stealing cars three times in the past ten years. You were never convicted or charged for any of these events. The State wants to admit this evidence to prove that you committed an armed robbery.

The State can’t use proof of you’re being accused of stealing in the past to prove that you robbed the store. However, they can still try to get this evidence in. If they use prove of prior bad acts to show your habits, it may be allowed.

In the above example, let’s presume that you had stolen three cars in the past and were paying the owners back over time. You are late on your payments. If you don’t come up with $5,000 to pay them back immediately, they’re going to sue you.

The State may try to use this evidence to show that you had the necessary motive to commit the burglary. They can argue that you robbed the store in order to pay back the people whose cars you had stolen.

Your San Diego Criminal Defense Lawyer Will Object to Inadmissible Evidence

If the State tries to bring in evidence that will hurt your case, your criminal lawyer at San Diego Criminal Defense Lawyers will file an objection. If the evidence isn’t allowed to be used at trial, they’ll do their best to keep it out.

The less evidence that State can use against you – the better your chances of being acquitted. It’s a good idea to have an experienced criminal lawyer by your side. So call and schedule your initial consultation with a skilled California defense attorney today.

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