Q
Will my prior conviction of a felony affect my Virginia personal injury case?

A
Virginia law allows a person's convictions of a felony to be used for impeachment purposes.  For example, if you were involved in a car accident in Charlottesville, Virginia and suffered injuries, and your case had to go to court, you would likely need to testify about how the accident happened, what your injuries were and how they affected you.  You would answer the questions about these topics in direct examination by your attorney.  The attorney hired by the insurance company would be able to ask you questions during what is called "cross examination."  the insurance lawyer can ask you if you have ever been convicted of a felony.  If you have, you would need to answer yes.  The insurance attorney cannot ask questions that bring the circumstance of the case to the jury's attention.  The insurance attorney also cannot ask you in cross examination if you were charged with afelony if you were not convicted.  The weight to be given to the fact that you were convicted of the felony is up to the jury and can only be used to determine your credibility.

The judge at trial may give instruction to the jury that says "During the trial, proff that a witness has been convicted of a felony was admitted.  The only purpose for which that evidence was admitted was its effect on his credibility as a witness.  You may not consider that evidence as proof of any other issue in the lawsuit."

To answer the questions, you felony conviction could affect your Charlottesville personal injury case, but it may not.  There is little doubt that during the negotiations to resolve the case, the insurance company of their attorney will bring up the issue to try to lessen the settlement.  They will also bring up the issue of the case is tried.  however, if there are independent witnesses to corroborate how the accident occured, and your injuries are very objective, such as a broken bone or scarring, then the conviction will not likely be much of an issue.

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