Change to N.J.R.E. 609 Possibly On Its Way

Soon New Jersey defendants in criminal trials may not have to worry quite so much about convictions ten years older or more being used against them. In a move poised to bring New Jersey more in line with the Federal Rules of Evidence, the state Supreme Court is looking to change New Jersey Rule 609 to make it so that convictions that are at least ten years old cannot be used to impeach a defendant’s credibility unless their probative value outweighs their prejudicial effect.

Presently, N.J. Rule 609 does not make any explicit distinction regarding the age of prior convictions. Instead it simply allows prior convictions “unless excluded by the judge as remote or for other causes.”

The New Jersey Supreme Court Committee on the Rules of Evidence approved the change, which was first proposed by one of the subcommittees. It is now being taken into consideration by the state Supreme Court which can choose to adopt the modification or keep the rule the way it is.

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