Martin & Kent, L.L.C. Martin & Kent, L.L.C.

attorneys

Use of Old Convictions Prevents Man from Getting Fair Trial in Domestic Battery Case

A man convicted of aggravated domestic battery and sexual assault was recently awarded a new trial by the Illinois Appellate Court because the jury heard about parts of his criminal history that they never should have. The law prevents using convictions more than 10 years old to try to damage a person's credibility. The use of two such old convictions in this man's trial potentially improperly swayed the jury in assessing his credibility and prevented the man from getting a fair trial.

A man convicted of aggravated domestic battery and sexual assault was recently awarded a new trial by the Illinois Appellate Court because the jury heard about parts of his criminal history that they never should have. The law prevents using convictions more than 10 years old to try to damage a person's credibility. The use of two such old convictions in this man's trial potentially improperly swayed the jury in assessing his credibility and prevented the man from getting a fair trial.

The 2012 trial of Alejandro Reveles-Cordova was a clear example of how important witness credibility can be, and how important each piece of evidence affecting credibility can be. The man was on trial for aggravated domestic battery, sexual assault, and home invasion. The alleged crimes stemmed from a November 20, 2010 encounter the man had with his former partner. Reveles-Cordova and the woman had a 15-year relationship that ended sometime before the fall of 2010. According to the man, he visited her home and talked with her, and then they had consensual sex. According to the woman, Reveles-Cordova broke in, strangled her, and raped her.

One of the essential statutory elements for the aggravated domestic battery charge was the woman's claim that Reveles-Cordova strangled her, a claim that the man denied. The issue of whether Reveles-Cordova strangled the woman was highly circumstantial, since the woman had no clear marks or visible damage to her neck area observed by neutral witnesses, and she did not mention being choked to the officer who initially responded to the scene. During the trial, Reveles-Cordova's lengthy criminal history came to light, which included multiple felony convictions that were more than 10 years old. The jury ultimately convicted him on all charges.

Reveles-Cordova appealed his conviction and won. The problem with his trial was the wrongful admission of the man's criminal background, which may have improperly influenced the jury. The rules of evidence declare convictions more than a decade old to be inadmissible, so his 1998 and 2002 felony convictions never should have come out at trial.

In the appeals court's view, the issues of whether the sex was consensual and whether Reveles-Cordova strangled the woman (which were essential elements of the domestic battery and sexual assault charges) largely came down to the testimony of the alleged victim and the alleged victimizer. The admission of the man's 1998 and 2002 felony convictions may have damaged the way the jury saw Reveles-Cordova and may have caused them to downgrade the credibility of his testimony improperly. As a result, this meant that he did not receive a fair trial and was entitled to a new one.

Criminal trials many times may hinge on any of a number of pieces of evidence. That's why it's important to ensure that the only evidence against you is material that the law deems admissible. For advice and representation on criminal charges that you or a loved one is facing, consult the DuPage County criminal defense attorneys at Martin & Kent to discuss your case. Our attorneys can help you make sure the trial you receive is a fair one.

Contact us online or by calling (888) 388-9151 to schedule your confidential initial consultation at no charge.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information