I have a tractor-trailer wreck case that goes to trial in about six weeks. I am afraid that the jury will learn that I served two years in prison on a burglary charge about 15 years ago. I feel like I paid my debt to society and I don’t want my mistake of many years ago held against me now. Will the jury be told about my crime?
No, assuming that you told the truth about it in this litigation any time you were asked about it.
During the discovery process it is common to ask an opponent about past criminal charges and convictions. These questions must be answered truthfully. Proof of a prior felony conviction ordinarily is not admissible at trial in Tennessee if the conviction is more than ten years old., but it is permissible to ask about "old" convictions and charges during the discovery phase of the case.
If you do not tell the truth about your past, you may make an otherwise inadmissible criminal history admissible. Why? Because the erroneous answer you gave will be admitted into evidence to show that you did not tell the truth under oath.
This is yet another reason why it is essential that you tell the truth during litigation – the failure to do so can really harm your case. Experienced, honest personal injury lawyers actively encourage their clients to be 100% truthful during litigation. There are many legitimate ways to keep prior mistakes out of the trial of a personal injury case, but only if truthful answers are given to questions about this mistakes during the discovery process.