Rule 609. Impeachment by Evidence of a Criminal Conviction.
(a) In General. For the purpose of attacking the credibility of any witness, evidence that the witness has been convicted of a crime, whether by verdict or by plea of guilty or nolo contendere, must be admitted if it involved dishonesty or false statement.
(b) Limit on Using the Evidence After 10 Years. This subdivision (b) applies if more than 10 years have passed since the witnesss conviction or release from confinement for it, whichever is later. Evidence of the conviction is admissible only if:
(1) its probative value substantially outweighs its prejudicial effect; and
(2) the proponent gives an adverse party reasonable written notice of the intent to use it so that the party has a fair opportunity to contest its use.
(c) Effect of Pardon or Other Equivalent Procedure. Evidence of a conviction is not admissible under this rule if the conviction has been the subject of one of the following:
(1) a pardon or other equivalent procedure based on a specific finding of innocence; or
(2) a pardon or other equivalent procedure based on a specific finding of rehabilitation of the person convicted, and that person has not been convicted of any subsequent crime.
(d) Juvenile Adjudications. In a criminal case only, evidence of the adjudication of delinquency for an offense under the Juvenile Act, 42 Pa.C.S. § § 6301 et seq., may be used to impeach the credibility of a witness if conviction of the offense would be admissible to attack the credibility of an adult.
(e) Pendency of an Appeal. A conviction that satisfies this rule is admissible even if an appeal is pending. Evidence of the pendency is also admissible.
Pa.R.E. 609(a) differs from F.R.E. 609(a). It is designed to be consistent with Pennsylvania case law. See Commonwealth v. Randall, 515 Pa. 410, 528 A.2d 1326 (1987); Commonwealth v. Bighum, 452 Pa. 554, 307 A.2d 255 (1973). In addition, Pa.R.E. 609(a), unlike F.R.E. 609(a)(2), specifically provides that a conviction based upon a plea of nolo contendere may be used to attack the credibility of a witness; this, too, is consistent with prior Pennsylvania case law. See Commonwealth v. Snyder, 408 Pa. 253, 182 A.2d 495 (1962).
As a general rule, evidence of a jury verdict of guilty or a plea of guilty or nolo contendere may not be used to attack the credibility of a witness before the court has pronounced sentence. See Commonwealth v. Zapata, 455 Pa. 205, 314 A.2d 299 (1974). In addition, evidence of admission to an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program under Pa.R.Crim.P. 310320 may not be used to attack credibility. See Commonwealth v. Krall, 290 Pa. Super. 1, 434 A.2d 99 (1981).
42 Pa.C.S. § 5918 provides (with certain exceptions) that when a defendant in a criminal case has been called to testify in his or her own behalf he or she cannot be cross-examined about prior convictions. However, evidence of a prior conviction or convictions of a crime or crimes admissible under paragraph (a) may be introduced in rebuttal after the defendant has testified. See Commonwealth v. Bighum, 452 Pa. 554, 307 A.2d 255 (1973).
Pa.R.E. 609(b) differs slightly from F.R.E. 609(b) in that the phrase supported by specific facts and circumstances, used in F.R.E. 609(b)(1) with respect to the balancing of probative value and prejudicial effect, has been eliminated. Pa.R.E. 609(b) basically tracks what was said in Commonwealth v. Randall, 515 Pa. 410, 528 A.2d 1326 (1987). Where the date of conviction or last date of confinement is within ten years of the trial, evidence of the conviction of a crimen falsi is per se admissible. If more than ten years have elapsed, the evidence may be used only after written notice and the trial judges determination that its probative value substantially outweighs its prejudicial effect. The relevant factors for making this determination are set forth in Bighum, supra, and Commonwealth v. Roots, 482 Pa. 33, 393 A.2d 364 (1978). For the computation of the ten-year period, where there has been a reincarceration because of a parole violation, see Commonwealth v. Jackson, 526 Pa. 294, 585 A.2d 1001 (1991).
Pa.R.E. 609(c) differs from F.R.E. 609(c) because the Federal Rule includes procedures that are not provided by Pennsylvania law.
Pa.R.E. 609(d) differs from F.R.E. 609(d). Under the latter, evidence of juvenile adjudications is generally inadmissible to impeach credibility, except in criminal cases against a witness other than the accused where the court finds that the evidence is necessary for a fair determination of guilt or innocence. Pa.R.E. 609(d), to be consistent with 42 Pa.C.S. § 6354(b)(4), permits a broader use; a juvenile adjudication of an offense may be used to impeach in a criminal case if conviction of the offense would be admissible if committed by an adult. Juvenile adjudications may also be admissible for other purposes. See 42 Pa.C.S. § 6354(b)(1), (2), and (3).
Pa.R.E. 609(e) is identical to F.R.E. 609(e).
Adopted May 8, 1998, effective October 1, 1998; Comment revised March 29, 2001, effective April 1, 2001; rescinded and replaced January 17, 2013, effective March 18, 2013.
Committee Explanatory Reports:
Final Report explaining the March 29, 2001 revision of the Comment published with the Courts Order at 31 Pa.B. 1995 (April 14, 2001).
Final Report explaining the January 17, 2013 rescission and replacement published with the Courts Order at 43 Pa.B. 651 (February 2, 2013).
The provisions of this Rule 609 rescinded and replaced January 17, 2013, effective in sixty days, 43 Pa.B. 620. Immediately preceding text appears at serial pages (276585) to (276586).
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