Proving a defendant's bad character
Proving a defendant's bad character

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

  • Proving a defendant's bad character
  • Evidence of a defendant's bad character
  • Proving previous convictions under PACE 1984
  • Proving the defendant's bad character by hearsay evidence
  • Proving bad character by agreement
  • Case management of bad character evidence

Evidence of a defendant's bad character

The Criminal Justice Act 2003 (CJA 2003) governs the admissibility of evidence of bad character.

See Practice Note: Admissibility of defendant's bad character in criminal proceedings. Evidence of a defendant's bad character can take a variety of forms.

These include:

  1. previous convictions

  2. unproven allegations

  3. details of an offence for which the defendant has been acquitted

See Practice Note: Admissibility of bad character to prove guilt (propensity).

See Practice Note: Admissibility of bad character to prove untruthfulness.

The prosecution will need to prove a defendant's bad character (which ever form it takes) by admissible evidence.

Proving previous convictions under PACE 1984

Evidence that a defendant has been convicted of an offence can be proved under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE 1984) by way certificate of conviction.PACE 1984, s 73(1)

The statutory requirements of a certificate of conviction are: PACE 1984, s 73(2)

  1. a certificate

  2. signed by the officer of the court where the conviction took place

A certificate of conviction is not conclusive evidence of commission of an offence.PACE 1984, s 74(3)

PACE 1984 creates a rebuttable presumption that an offence has been committed. This means that the burden is on the defendant to prove on the balance of probabilities that he did not commit the offence. In Pattison v DPP the court held that the process of proving a conviction under PACE 1984 required a two stage evidential test:PACE 1984, s 74(3)Pattison v DPP [2005] All ER (D) 237 (Dec)

  1. firstly, the production of a certificate of conviction