Legal Dictionary

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Character

Character is a person's general disposition, particularly when a trait is relevant to the issues in the case. For example, if the defendant is claiming self defense in an assault case against him, the victim's propensity towards violent behavior would be relevant character evidence. Introducing evidence about the good character of a defendant can be tricky because it allows the prosecution to offer evidence of the defendant's bad character traits. For example, if the defendant calls a character witness to testify about how honest he is, the prosecution can attempt to impeach the witness' testimony with evidence of the defendant's dishonest acts.