Can a prosecutor bring up a defendant’s prior arrests/convictions in front of the jury without the defendant being on the witness stand?

Also can the arresting officers discuss the case while in the hall way of the courthouse before going in to testify re: the same case?

Asked on July 17, 2010 under Criminal Law, California


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Generally not.  That is why so many defendants do not wish to take the stand in defense of their case.  Their "prior bad acts" can not be disclosed or used against them unless the defendant places their credibility in to issue, and that happens when they take the stand and testify on their own behalf.  As for the officers, that is a bad judgement call on their behalf and may fall under some disciplinary statute but it is not necessarily against the law.  Your attorney would best know how to handle the matter. It could be used to discredit the officer as to his or her independent recollection of the events. Speak with him or her.  Good luck.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.