Rule 803(22). Judgment of a Previous Conviction (Not Adopted).
(22) Judgment of a Previous Conviction (Not Adopted)
Pennsylvania has not adopted F.R.E. 803(22).
With respect to facts essential to sustain a judgment of criminal conviction, there are four basic approaches that a court can take:
1. The judgment of conviction is conclusive, i.e., estops the party convicted from contesting any fact essential to sustain the conviction.
2. The judgment of conviction is admissible as evidence of any fact essential to sustain the conviction, only if offered against the party convicted.
3. The judgment of conviction is admissible as evidence of any fact essential to sustain the conviction when offered against any party (this is the federal rule for felonies, except that the Government cannot offer someone elses conviction against the defendant in a criminal case, other than for purposes of impeachment).
4. The judgment of conviction is neither conclusive nor admissible as evidence to prove a fact essential to sustain the conviction (common law rule).
For felonies and other major crimes, Pennsylvania takes approach number one. In subsequent litigation, the convicted party is estopped from denying or contesting any fact essential to sustain the conviction. Once a party is estopped from contesting a fact, no evidence need be introduced by an adverse party to prove it. See Hurtt v. Stirone, 416 Pa. 493, 206 A.2d 624 (1965); In re Estate of Bartolovich, 420 Pa. Super. 419, 616 A.2d 1043 (1992) (judgment of conviction conclusive under Slayers Act, 20 Pa.C.S. § § 88018815).
For minor offenses, Pennsylvania takes approach number four; it applies the common law rule. Evidence of a conviction is inadmissible to prove a fact necessary to sustain the conviction. See Loughner v. Schmelzer, 421 Pa. 283, 218 A.2d 768 (1966).
A plea of guilty to a crime is excepted to the hearsay rule as an admission of all facts essential to sustain a conviction, but only when offered against the pleader by a party-opponent. See Pa.R.E. 803(25); see also Pa.R.E. 410. A plea of guilty may also qualify as an exception to the hearsay rule as a statement against interest, if the declarant is unavailable to testify at trial. See Pa.R.E. 804(b)(3).
The provisions of this Rule 803(22) adopted January 17, 2013, effective in sixty days, 43 Pa.B. 620.
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