Prior Conviction May Impeach Credibility If It's Punishable by Imprisonment In Excess of One Year

In People v. Montgomery, 47 Ill. 2d 510, 268 N.E.2d 695 (1971), the Illinois Supreme Court explained that "our statute provides that a prior conviction 'may' be shown to impeach credibility." Montgomery, 47 Ill. 2d at 515. As an aid to understanding how prior convictions may be used to impeach a witness, the supreme court determined that the conviction must be "'punishable by death or imprisonment in excess of one year under the law under which he was convicted'" or " involved dishonesty or false statement,'" but " in either case, the judge determines that the probative value of the evidence of the crime is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice.'" Montgomery, 47 Ill. 2d at 516, quoting 51 F.R.D. 391 (1971). In ruling on the motion in limine, the trial court here exercised its discretion and fully explained its reasoning. the trial court stated, "I think it has to be a felony in the law of the state where the crime has occurred before you could use it. This offense does not involve moral turpitude like a misdemeanor or theft and it doesn't go directly to credibility so you cannot use it for impeachment under Montgomery."