Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone makes bad choices. Some mistakes and some questionable choices are worse than others. And sometimes, those mistakes and poor decisions can come back to haunt us.
Let’s say, for example, that you have a past felony on your record. And let’s say that you are now the plaintiff in a personal injury case. You may be wondering if your prior felony will affect your personal injury case. The answer is, “maybe.”
The type of felony and when it occurred can make a big difference
A prior felony conviction will likely harm your personal injury case if:
- The conviction occurred fairly recently.
- The crime you committed involved deceit or was a financial crime.
- State laws permit the admission of information about prior bad acts as evidence of character (i.e. – whether you are truthful) in civil litigation.
In general, any felony conviction that occurred within 10 years of the civil matter in question may, potentially be used against you. That does not necessarily mean it would be, however. This is because the judge could disallow it if he or she determined its admission would unfairly influence the jury at trial.
How information about a prior felony could be used against you
Assuming the information about your prior felony is admissible and the judge allows it, there are two ways the defense could use it against you.
The first would be to challenge your credibility. This would most likely occur if you were testifying on your behalf. It would also be likely if you were convicted of felony fraud or a similar offense involving dishonesty.
If information about your prior felony is admissible for impeachment, the defense may also use it to try to catch you in a lie. Let’s say, for example, that you are asked about your character at trial. In response, you indicate that you are generally an honest, responsible citizen. The defense could then raise the issue of your prior felony. This could hurt your case, especially if the felony included some type of dishonesty.
Other ways in which a prior felony could affect your personal injury case
A prior felony could also affect your ability to get a fair settlement out of court. If the lawyer for the defendant or the defendant’s insurance company discovers it, they may assume you prefer not to take your civil case to trial. They may also assume that you would be willing to take any settlement to avoid it. Based on these assumptions they may offer a much lower settlement than you deserve.
How we can help
If you were hurt in any sort of accident due to someone else’s negligence, you are legally entitled to compensation for your physical, emotional, and financial losses. As Personal injury lawyers, it is our job to ensure you get the compensation you deserve. However, the amount you recover is not guaranteed.
If you have a prior felony and you are concerned about how it may affect your case, there are some things we can do to level the playing field. First and foremost, we do our best to keep your personal information protected. That means, we will take steps to prevent your date of birth, social security number, or driver’s license number from being disclosed to the opposing party. Other measures include requesting a bench trial – meaning thata judge would hear your case rather than a jury – or filing a request to keep evidence of your felony from being disclosed
Depending on all of your circumstances, we may also be able to argue that your criminal history is not relevant to the case at hand. If a judge agrees, the information about your prior felony may not be admissible.
To learn more about how a prior felony may affect your personal injury case and how we can help, let Van Law Firm help you today. Contact us at (702)529-1011 for a free consultation today!