Will My Stupid Mistake Many Years Ago Hurt My Case?

I was arrested for underage drinking when I was in high school 10 years ago. I was put on probation for a year. Now I got hurt in an car accident and the other driver’s lawyer wants to know if I have ever been arrested. Do I have to tell the truth about it – it happened so long ago? Is it going to come out in court that I was arrested?

Don’t worry about it. In a lawsuit your opponent gets to ask you questions about your background. The area of questions  that can be asked during the "discovery" period in a lawsuit is very broad, much broader than questions that will be permitted in court at trial. So, your opponent can ask about prior arrests and you should tell the truth about what happened.

Will it come out in court? It almost certainly will not if you tell the truth about what happened. If you lie and your opponent finds out about it, what happened will probably come out in court, not because of what happened 10 years ago but the fact that you lied about it when asked in the lawsuit.

There are some occasions where convictions of crimes can be introduced in evidence at a trial. The thing you need to know is to tell your lawyer the truth about your past. If your lawyer knows the truth he or she can help protect you from embarrassment or saying something that will hurt your case. Even if the information is admissible into evidence at trial, if your lawyer knows the truth before trial there are occasionally things he or she can do to minimize any harm to your case. 

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