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- Although your past crime is completely unrelated to your personal injury claim, most people will view a criminal record negatively.
- Typically, the less serious the crime, and the longer the time that has passed, the less impact it will have on your personal injury case.
- The best thing to do is to tell the truth and give the details of your crime and conviction, as well as hire an experienced attorney.
- If you do have a serious criminal record, your attorney may suggest waiving a jury trial and allowing a judge to decide your case.
A large number of people have some kind of criminal record, but if you are injured in an accident and file a personal injury claim, you may find yourself asking how your criminal record could impact your litigation. Below, we will discuss how a criminal record could affect the outcome of your personal injury case.
What was the crime?
Although your past crime is completely unrelated to your personal injury claim, most people will view a criminal record negatively. A good deal of personal injury cases have a jury comprised of average people determining the plaintiff’s personal injury award. Therefore, a jury may look at a criminal record in an unfavorable light. But how negative will this be to your case?
It depends on the crime and how long ago you were convicted. If you were charged with a DUI more than 10 years ago, the impact will likely be minimal. Typically, the less serious the crime, and the longer the time that has passed, the better the outcome.
However, if you were convicted of a felony or some crime that involves fraud or dishonesty, this is likely to have more of a negative impact. Juries typically do not want to give money to claimants who have been convicted of a crime that involves lying or serious criminal misconduct without evidence that they have completely changed. So, the more recent the conviction, the worse the effect will be because it will be harder to prove that you have changed in a short amount of time. For example, the jury will be extremely suspicious of the plaintiff’s character if they committed forgery less than a year ago.
What can you do?
The best thing you can do in this situation is to tell the truth and to hire an experienced attorney. It is assured that you will be asked about your criminal history. When you are, answer truthfully and give the details of your crime and conviction. If you do not, the defense will find out about your past conviction eventually and use it to paint you as dishonest. This will be detrimental to your claim and affect your possible recovery.
If you do have a serious criminal record, your attorney may suggest that waiving a jury trial may be in your best interest. A judge would then decide your case. Judges are often more logical and rational in making decisions than a jury would be. Juries are more likely to have an emotional reaction to the plaintiff’s injuries. But if the plaintiff has a criminal record, that emotional reaction could be negative.
If you have been in an accident and have questions about your rights, contact our office to schedule a free consultation regarding your claim.