If you are gearing up for personal injury litigation, you should know that your criminal history can have a big impact on your civil case. Here are two ways in which this may occur:
Some Crimes May Make the Jury Doubt Your Honesty
Some crimes may make the jury doubt your account of the accident. In most cases, those are crimes that involve dishonesty on your part. For example, if you have been convicted of fraud, forgery, or perjury (lying under oath), the judge or jury may think that you are lying again. It's like the case of The Boy Who Cried Wolf: the shepherd raises false alarms so many times that others couldn't believe him when he does raise a true alarm. In this case, others may think that your latest claim, even if it is genuine, is just another false alarm.
Serious Crimes May Reduce Your Likeability and Award
Whether or not the public find you likable shouldn't affect your case, but unfortunately, it does. It's human nature to dislike those who have been convicted of serious or heinous crimes. For example, if you have a felony in your recent criminal past, it will be difficult for the jury to award you maximum damages even if you put up a strong case and win.
Therefore, if you have a criminal past, you need to be aware of the impact its impact on your current civil lawsuit and take the necessary measures to mitigate the effects. Here are some measures that can help:
- Block Your Criminal Record from Reaching the Civil Court
The first measure is to try and prevent the details of your criminal past from getting revealed in the civil court. Your lawyer can petition for the blockage, but you only have a good chance of succeeding if the criminal convictions have little connection to your personal injury claim. For example, a driving under the influence (DUI) conviction may not have a connection with a product liability injury claim involving a defective medical device.
- Tell the Truth
If the defense succeeds in getting criminal records revealed in court, tell the truth about them. Hiding or lying about your past will only hurt your case; for example, your credibility may be put into question if the truth is revealed and you've tried to hide it.
- Opt for a Trial by Judge
Lastly, you may also have some luck by opting for a trial by judge rather than a trial by jury. A judge is more likely to be more factual and reliant on legal principles than the jury who may be swayed by emotions. This may help you if your criminal records have no connection with your current injury case.
For more information, contact a firm like Blomberg Benson & Garrett.