This introductory chapter first sets out the book's purpose which is to examine the use of assessments of character in a criminal trial. The focus is on the use of bad character evidence to prove guilt. This typically involves using evidence about a defendant's past behaviour — often in the form of previous convictions — to show how he acted at the time of the alleged offence. The book also considers the use of character in sentencing: should judges take criminal record, or other evidence about the defendant's previous behaviour, into account when sentencing? The chapter then discusses character in the criminal process and definition of character. This is followed by an overview of the subsequent chapters.
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