Being a defendant in a criminal trial can be emotionally grueling, not only because there is so much at stake. As a defendant, even the most private details about your personal life may be brought to light in front of the courts.
Everyone has personality flaws and everyone has done foolish things that they regret. But unfortunately, when you are on trial as a defendant in a criminal trial, these things will be analyzed, and may even be used as evidence to argue that you committed the crime you are accused of.
If you are concerned about whether aspects of your character and personality will be used as evidence against you, it is important that you learn more about what is and is not admissible under the law.
Is character evidence admissible in a criminal trial?
As a general rule, character evidence is not admissible when it is used by the prosecution in the trial phase to give evidence that the defendant is guilty. For example, if there is documented evidence that the defendant has lied in the past, the defendant will not be able to use this as evidence in the trial phase. It may, however, be used in the sentencing phase of the trial.
The defense may use character evidence in the form of statements from those who know them. For example, a defendant accused of fraud may ask their boss to testify that they are an honest and reliable person with moral integrity. However, a defendant who uses character evidence to try and further their case should be prepared to be challenged by the prosecution.
The difference between character and habit
While a person's character and personality may not be used as prosecution evidence in the trial phase, habitual actions may be used as evidence in certain circumstances. For example, if a person went to a nightclub every Saturday, the prosecution could use this habitual evidence as an argument to why they were likely at the nightclub on the Saturday in which a person was murdered.
If you are facing criminal charges in Texas, you should have a good understanding of what evidence the prosecution can use against you.