Hannah Farthing

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The common law rules of evidence prohibited the use of a defendant’s “bad character or prior, unrelated misconduct” to show in a criminal trial that the defendant was more likely to have committed the charged crime. Today, however, the accused’s prior crime or prior acts are admissible in trial so long as the evidence is relevant to some issue other than proving the accused acted in accordance with his character. Although the rule manages to keep out entirely unrelated evidence of the accused’s criminal character, many broad exceptions to the rule still lie in place allowing the prosecution to sneak evidence into the trial. This creates a danger that once the jury learns that a defendant has a criminal history, the likelihood of a conviction escalates tremendously.

Wright v. State, 362 Ga. App. 867, 870 S.E.2d 484 (2022).

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