17Aug 2020

Can Prior Crimes Be Used Against You In A DUI Trial?

In our justice system, a prior bad act is usually inadmissible in a trial about a current crime. This is done for a number of reasons. One reason might be that prior crimes are so old an individual may have changed very much since the time of a prior infraction. The main reason is that knowledge of a prior crime may "poison" the jury's mind into preconceiving guilt, unrelated to the facts of the current case.

New Jersey had a recent case where a man drove through a police barricade and into a crowd killing an individual. The man claimed that he blacked out and did not have any knowledge of driving through the barricade, let alone killing an individual. The man was taken to a hospital, read his Miranda rights, and agreed to a blood test. The test found a chemical used in aerosol (inhaled) products that get people 
very "high." The individual was put on trial and found guilty. Part of the evidence presented against him were reports of previous convictions of illicit use of aerosol products.

After being found guilty, the man appealed his conviction on the grounds that the jury had been biased against him by the relation of his prior drug convictions. The appeals court let the guilty finding stand, 
stating that the prior acts were relevant and established a pattern of behavior. If you live in Burlington, Essex, Colchester, Winooski, Williston, Shelburne, or anywhere in the state of Vermont, and have been arrested or charged with DUI or any crime, call Handy Law for aggressive and experienced legal defense.