Admissibility of Felony Convictions for Impeachment Purposes in California

In People v. Castro (1985) 38 Cal.3d 301, the California Supreme Court set forth a two-part analysis for a trial court to follow in determining whether a prior felony conviction is admissible for impeachment purposes. First, the trial court must determine whether the prior felony involves "moral turpitude." If the court finds that it does not involve moral turpitude, then the prior conviction may not be admitted. Second, if the prior felony does involve moral turpitude, then the court must exercise its discretion under Evidence Code section 352 in deciding whether to admit or exclude the prior. (People v. Brown (1985) 169 Cal. App. 3d 800, 804, 215 Cal. Rptr. 494.) The Supreme Court in Castro explained that "subject to the trial court's discretion under Evidence Code section 352 article I, section 28, subdivision (f) of the California Constitution 4 authorizes the use for impeachment purposes of any felony conviction which necessarily involves moral turpitude, even if the immoral trait is one other than dishonesty." ( Castro, supra, 38 Cal.3d at p. 306.)