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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.