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Character Evidence


Proof or attestations about an individual's moral standing, general nature, traits, and reputation in the general community.

A character witness is an individual who testifies as to the habits and reputation of another person. In criminal cases, a defendant might attempt to reduce the possibility that he or she will be convicted of committing the crime as charged by exhibiting his or her good character or propensity for not committing the offense. Ordinarily, this is limited to testimony concerning the particular character trait that is in issue. For example, evidence concerning the defendant's trustworthiness with property might be relevant in an embezzlement case. The character witness must be a person who is familiar with the defendant's reputation in the community fairly close to the time the crime was committed.

In federal trials the admissibility of character evidence and the use of character witnesses are governed by the federal rules of evidence.

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