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Criminal Jury Instructions

Criminal Jury Instructions Home

2.4-5  Impeachment -- Prior Convictions or Misconduct of Witness

Revised to December 1, 2007

The evidence that one of the (state/defense) witnesses, <insert name of witness>,  <insert one of the following:>

  • was previously convicted of the crime(s) of <insert crime(s)>
  • has admitted (stealing / cheating / lying)

is only admissible on the question of the credibility of the witness, that is, the weight that you will give the witness's testimony.  The witness's (criminal record / admission of act[s] of (stealing / cheating / lying)) bears only on this witness's credibility.

It is your duty to determine whether this witness is to be believed wholly, or partly, or not at all.  You may consider the witness's (prior conviction / act[s] of (stealing / cheating / lying)) in weighing the credibility of this witness and give such weight to those facts that you decide is fair and reasonable in determining the credibility of this witness.

Commentary

See generally General Statutes § 52-145; Code of Evidence § 4-5 (prior misconduct) and § 6-7 (a) (prior convictions).

In State v. Theriault, 38 Conn. App. 815, 818-23, cert. denied, 235 Conn. 922 (1995), the Appellate Court ordered a new trial because the trial court had misstated the number of crimes for which evidence had been presented against a witness, who was the only witness linking the defendant to the alleged crime.  Because this evidence was highly relevant to the defendant's defense, "the trial court fell short of its duty to refer the jury to the essential facts surrounding the jury instruction regarding use of a witness's prior felony convictions."  Id., 823.
 


 

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