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Chapter

Cover The Modern Law of Evidence

18. Evidence of character: evidence of the good character of the accused  

This chapter discusses the circumstances in which, in criminal proceedings, evidence of the good character of the accused may be adduced because of its relevance either to a fact in issue or to his credibility. It addresses the following issues: Why should an accused be allowed to call evidence of his previous good character? What is meant by ‘good character?’ Linked to this, where an accused has previous convictions, in what circumstances might it be acceptable for a judge to tell a jury that they should consider the accused as a person of good character? Where an accused has no previous convictions, in what circumstances might it be acceptable for a judge to refuse to tell a jury that they should treat the accused as a person of good character? Other issues discussed include the admissibility of evidence of the good character of prosecution witnesses.

Chapter

Cover The Modern Law of Evidence

19. Evidence of character: evidence of bad character in criminal cases  

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.

Chapter

Cover Concentrate Questions and Answers Evidence

4. Character  

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 concerns a complex question in criminal evidence: situations where defendants may adduce evidence of good character to suggest lack of guilt and support credibility, and those where prosecution counsel or counsel for the co-defendant may cross-examine them on previous ‘reprehensible’ behaviour. The exclusionary rule was fundamental to the English legal system and founded on the principle that the defendant should have a fair trial. The Criminal Justice Act (CJA) 2003 made comprehensive changes to the rules of admissibility of evidence of bad character of the defendant and witnesses providing that ‘the common law rules governing the admissibility of evidence of bad character in criminal proceedings are abolished’. There is now a presumption of admissibility of that evidence.