OCGA 24-9-84.1 Interpretation
In Adams v. State, 284 Ga. App. 534, 537-541 (3) (644 SE2d 426) (2007) the Court explained:
In Georgia, prior to the enactment of OCGA 24-9-84.1, a witness could be impeached by proof of general bad character or by proof that the witness had been convicted of a crime of moral turpitude.
Under that rule, theft and shoplifting were considered crimes of moral turpitude.
Instead of expressly codifying the existing law, the legislature adopted the language of the federal rule, thus using "dishonesty or false statement" instead of "moral turpitude."
Had the legislature intended for the new law to be applied in the same manner as the existing law, it seems logical that it would have used the same language.
We are persuaded by the reasoning of the Eleventh Circuit, other federal circuit courts and many state courts that, for impeachment purposes, crimes of "dishonesty" are limited to those crimes that bear upon a witness's propensity to testify truthfully.
Our conclusion that the term "dishonesty" must be somewhat limited in this context is also guided by the fact that, under OCGA 24-9-84.1 (a) (3), prior convictions involving dishonesty or making a false statement must be admitted, regardless of the punishment that could be imposed and without balancing the probative value of admitting the evidence against the prejudicial effect to the witness, as is required before admitting prior convictions under paragraphs (a) (1) and (a) (2) of the statute.
In addition, several courts have recognized that although theft is not necessarily a crime of dishonesty or false statement, it may be admissible nonetheless if the crime was committed by fraudulent or deceitful means.
The party who seeks to use a misdemeanor conviction for impeachment has the burden of producing facts demonstrating that the particular conviction involved fraud or deceit.
The party here did not produce any such facts in this case. Id. at 539-540 (3).