“I want to testify as part of my criminal defense. Can the Erie County DA ask me questions about certain things I did in the past? What’s a Sandoval Hearing? Does that relate?”


In a case where the Accused takes the witness stand at her trial, the Accused may request a Sandoval hearing to obtain a prospective ruling on the scope of the Prosecution’s cross-examination. The scope of cross-examination refers to questions used to impeach the Accused on the basis of specific prior criminal, vicious, and immoral acts.  These categories are very broad and may include a variety of acts.

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The Sandoval Hearing emerged from the New York Court of Appeals landmark ruling in People v. Augustin Sandoval. The court emphasized a balance must be made between the probative value of prior specific criminal, vicious, immoral acts as evidence relating to the Accused’s credibility with the risk of unfair prejudice to the Accused. Accordingly, the purpose of the Sandoval Hearing is to determine whether the proper balance is struck.

To make this determination, courts will consider a variety of factors including whether the prior acts relate to the credibility of the Accused, how much time has passed since the conduct occurred, the prejudicial nature of the acts, and a number of other factors. Generally, New York courts will not permit traffic violations, while within the context of narcotics crimes, courts will consider the prejudice that naturally flows from such offenses.

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It also important to remember that your Criminal Defense Attorney Buffalo Ny has the burden to establish that the prejudicial effect of the admission of evidence would so far outweigh the probative worth of such evidence that it must be excluded. Because there are time-limits involved with respect to Pre-Trial motions and certain requests must be made or else are considered waived, it is vital that you consult a Buffalo Criminal Defense Attorney.

For more questions, contact a Criminal Defense attorney Buffalo Ny today.

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