Convicted Felons Can Be Impeached with Fact of Conviction, Even After Restoration of Civil Rights

By: Erin McNeill. This was posted Thursday, June 24th, 2010

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Under Virginia statute, an ex-felon is competent to testify as a witness, but his credibility can be impeached on cross-examination with the fact of his conviction. Virginia’s statute differs from the Federal Rules of Evidence in this regard, because there is no time limitation on when a felony can be used to impeach a witness’s credibility.[1]

A recent ruling only enforces Virginia’s commitment to impeachment by prior felony conviction when Judge Roush of the Fairfax County Circuit Court held in Sulton v. FedEx Ground Package System, Inc. that a restoration of civil rights does not include a “right” to testify without being impeached with the fact of a former felony conviction.

The Virginia Lawyers Weekly, a periodical targeted to Virginia lawyers and legal professionals, featured the holding in a recent article about the opinion and its implications. The article quoted Sands Anderson attorney Robert “Chip” Delano, who represented the successful defendant in the case. Read the entire story, by Peter Vieth, on Virginia Lawyers Weekly’s website here:

[1] Under Fed.R.Evid. 609, a witness generally can only be impeached with a felony if it has been less than ten years from the date of the conviction or the date of release from jail, whichever is later.

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