Evidence of Prior Convictions to Impeach Defendant's Credibility

In State v. Tucker, 317 N.C. 532, 346 S.E.2d 417 (1986), evidence of past convictions was admitted solely to impeach defendant's credibility. 317 N.C. at 543, 346 S.E.2d at 423. The Supreme Court held that the prosecutor's use of this evidence in closing arguments was improper and prejudicial, and that it was reversible error for the trial court to permit the prosecutor to argue the convictions as substantive evidence of defendant's guilt. However, in determining prejudice, the Tucker Court noted that defendant's evidence tended to show his innocence: The conflict between the State's evidence and defendant's evidence should have been determined by the jury free from the state's argument which gave force to the evidence of defendant's prior convictions beyond that permitted by the law. In light of the sharp evidentiary conflict, we conclude there "is a reasonable possibility that, had the error in question not been committed, a different result would have been reached at" trial. Id. at 544-45, 346 S.E.2d at 424.