Character

The standard bench book direction is to the effect that, not only is a person of good character is less likely to commit a criminal offence, but also that that person is less likely to lie about committing a criminal offence from the witness box.

A finding that the defendant is a good character is often of crucial importance in the defence case.

The standard bench book direction is to the effect that, not only is a person of good character is less likely to commit a criminal offence, but also that that person is less likely to lie about committing a criminal offence from the witness box.

There is naturally some flexibility about the direction. A failure to give a direction will not necessarily constitute a miscarriage of justice, it being on one view obvious that a person with no criminal record is less likely to commit a criminal offence. Moreover, it is uncontroversial for a judge to remind a jury of the obvious proposition that every person with a criminal record did, at one time or another, have no criminal record.

However, the direction is still of significant importance and generally speaking should be given where it is appropriate to do so.

Hall

Hall v Braybrook [1956] HCA 30

“Whilst the particular legislative provision meant that, for the purpose of deciding whether a matter should be tried summarily, a court can have regard to the convictions of an accused, the court affirmed “the general rule that a tribunal of fact passing upon the guilt or innocence of a defendant should not be informed of the defendant's criminal record or bad character or antecedents before the tribunal pronounces a finding of guilt.”