Admissibility of bad character to prove guilt (propensity)
Admissibility of bad character to prove guilt (propensity)

The following Corporate Crime guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Admissibility of bad character to prove guilt (propensity)
  • The Criminal Justice Act 2003, s 101(1)(d)
  • The evidence of bad character must be relevant
  • Bad character to prove guilt

The Criminal Justice Act 2003, s 101(1)(d)

The Criminal Justice Act 2003, s 101(1)(d) (CJA 2003) permits the admission of bad character evidence which is 'relevant to an important matter in issue' between the prosecution and defence. For more information, see Practice Note: Admissibility of bad character as a relevant 'matter in issue'.

The CJA 2003 expressly states that a 'matter in issue' includes the question whether the defendant has a propensity to commit offences of the kind with which they are charged.

Only prosecution evidence is admissible under CJA 2003, s 101(1)(d).

Reference to this gateway (and others) should only be made if the evidence falls within the definition of 'bad character' set out in the CJA 2003.

See Practice Note: Admissibility of defendant's bad character in criminal proceedings—What is bad character?

The evidence of bad character must be relevant

Under the CJA 2003 evidence of bad character must be 'relevant' to an important matter in issue between the prosecution and the defence.

The CJA 2003 defines an 'important matter' as a mater of substantial importance in the context of the case as whole.

In a criminal trial relevant important matters will always include:

  1. the identity of the suspect

  2. the elements of the offence, including any mental element required, and

  3. any defences raised

The evidence of bad character must be related