Admissibility of non-defendant's bad character
Admissibility of non-defendant's bad character

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

  • Admissibility of non-defendant's bad character
  • Admissibility of non-defendant's bad character
  • Important explanatory evidence
  • Bad character as evidence of 'substantial probative' value
  • Requirement of leave

Admissibility of non-defendant's bad character

Evidence of bad character is generally inadmissible against a person other the accused in criminal proceedings.

However, the Criminal Justice Act 2003 (CJA 2003) permits such evidence in three situations.

These are where the evidence:

  1. is important explanatory evidence

  2. has substantial probative value or

  3. all parties agreed to the evidence being admitted

The statutory provisions govern the admissibility of evidence of bad character of all witnesses, irrespective of whether they are witnesses for the prosecution or the defence or whether they give evidence or not.

The Criminal Procedure Act 1865 (CPA 1865), which states that a witnesses' conviction for an offence may be proved if not admitted, has been amended so that cross-examination on the previous convictions of a non-defendant, is now subject to the statutory scheme.

Evidence of a non-defendant's 'bad character' must satisfy the definition of 'bad character' as set out in CJA 2003.

See Practice Note: Admissibility of defendant's bad character in criminal proceedings

If the statutory definition of bad character is not satisfied none of the gateways of admissibility under CJA 2003 will apply.

The definition of 'bad character' includes a person's previous convictions.

Important explanatory evidence

A non-defendant's bad character is admissible if it is 'important explanatory evidence'.

Under CJA 2003 evidence is 'important explanatory evidence' if without it:

  1. the court or jury would find