This chapter begins with an introduction to the statutory framework governing the admissibility of bad character evidence. It goes on to consider the statutory definition of ‘bad character’ and to discuss the admissibility of evidence of bad character in criminal cases under the Criminal Justice Act 2003, namely: the admissibility of the bad character of a person other than the defendant and the requirement of leave; the admissibility of evidence of the bad character of the defendant under various statutory ‘gateways’, including the gateway by which evidence may be admitted if it is relevant to an important matter in issue between the defendant and the prosecution; and safeguards including the discretion to exclude evidence of bad character and the judge’s power to stop a case where the evidence is contaminated. Procedural rules are also considered, as is the defendant’s right to challenge evidence of bad character.
19. Evidence of character: evidence of bad character in criminal cases
6. Confessions, the defendant’s silence, and improperly obtained evidence
The Concentrate Questions and Answers series offers the best preparation for tackling exam questions. Each book includes typical questions, bullet-pointed answer plans and suggested answers, author commentary and diagrams and flow charts. This chapter covers three areas: confessions, silence of the accused and judicial discretion to exclude improperly obtained prosecution evidence. It explains how the most persuasive, sometimes only, evidence available to the prosecution is a pre-trial confession. While confessions have long been accepted as evidence of guilt, they have also posed risks of unreliability and violation of individual autonomy. Defendants may not be making a true confession or may have been obtained as a result of pressure. Permissible inferences from a pre-trial failure to respond to questions has the crucial difference that such failure alone cannot found a conviction. English law has previously been unwilling to acknowledge the case for excluding evidence which involves the police acting improperly or even illegally.