I have a civil suit for wrongful death against the man that killed my son in a motorcycle accident. I have a felony on my record

Asked over 1 year ago - Fresno, CA

what can I do so it won't hurt my son's case. Should I take myself off the lawsuit? I have to do a deposition in November and I am afraid that I can do damage to his case

Attorney answers (19)

  1. Christopher John Gansen

    Contributor Level 19

    19

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . I wouldn't worry too much about your prior felony. Talk to your lawyer about what effects it may have, if any. Removing yourself from the lawsuit likely wouldn't stop your deposition from happening, anyway, as you are the decedent's father.

    My best advice: don't stress about this. Disclose the felony if asked and be truthful in your deposition. All the best.

  2. Christian K. Lassen II

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    17

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . You are paying a lawyer, so he should advise you.

  3. Armen Michael Tashjian

    Pro

    Contributor Level 14

    15

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . While it is a legitimate concern, there are ways of dealing with your situation, including reducing the felony to misdemeanor and getting it expunged. However, not every felony can be reduced into misdemeanor. So, a review of your criminal background is required in order to know for sure if it is doable. Also, some felonies can be kept out based on the date and circumstances, depending to the judge of course.

    As for you removing yourself from the case, I don't recommend it. Your grief and loss is not any less just because you were convicted in the past. Feel free to ask away if you have more questions. We're here to help.

  4. Richard Marc Katz

    Pro

    Contributor Level 17

    15

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . You need to talk to your lawyer.

    A felony conviction in California unfortunately is generally admissible. A few years ago that was not the case. As well, in California all heirs, are required to be either plaintiffs or nominal defendants.

    With all that said, the loss of a loved one is not lessened because a survivor has been convicted of a felony. I assume your son was unmarried and had no children.

    Trust your lawyer, he or she will do his best for you.

    The information provided is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. I am... more
  5. Jeffrey Ira Schwimmer

    Contributor Level 19

    16

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . While your criminal record could have an impact on the jury's decisions, it is difficult to do a realistic analysis without knowing more details. On the one hand, your criminal past presumably does not impact on your son (presuming he did not have a criminal record) and there is going to be a sympathy for his death if he bears little or no culpability in the happening of the accident; on the other hand, if you will be a recipiant of any of the wrongful death proceeds, depending on the nature of your past felony, a jury may have the mindset not to want to award substantial monies. However, these are important tactical decisions that you should be discussing with your lawyer who would know all of the relevant evidence and intangibles that go into making a decision. Discuss it with him or her.

  6. Michael Evan Greenspan

    Contributor Level 16

    16

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . I am sorry for your loss. You should discuss this with the attorney who is representing you in this case. You must truthfully answer questions at a deposition and admit to the felony if asked. That being said, the fact of your felony should not have an impact on the merits of your case unless there is a statute that prohibits convicted felons from serving as Estate representatives. Discuss this with your attorney and be guided accordingly.

    Good Luck

    Answering this question does not create an attorney-client relationship between us. The answer given is for... more
  7. David Lee Fiol

    Contributor Level 17

    14

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . I would not worry about that. While you could be asked about it in your deposition, it is by no means certain that a jury would ever hear about your felony conviction, especially if it was many years ago. Your lawyer can make a motion before trial to keep the information out of the case, and this is the sort of thing that judges often exclude from evidence if it is not relevant or its relevance is outweighed by its inflammatory nature. The rule also varies depending on what court your case is in - are you in federal or state court?

  8. Robert Bruce Kopelson

    Contributor Level 20

    14

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . You need to discuss the proper strategy for the case with your lawyer. If you dont have confidence enough in your lawyer, consider getting a new one. the details really make a difference, and non of us on Avvo know everything we would want to know if advising you. I dont now who the other plaintiffs are, assuning there are others. I dont know how much the other person has in insurance or assets. I dont know what the felony was and when.

  9. C. Donald Briggs III

    Contributor Level 20

    13

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . You should discuss this with your attorney and see if your attorney thinks it will damage your case if you do not take yourself off the lawsuit. The other side will still want to do your deposition even if you are off the lawsuit since you are the father. Please accept my deepest sympathies for the loss of your son.

  10. James Otto Heiting

    Pro

    Contributor Level 15

    10

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . The answer is not as easy as the question. The case itself is unlikely to be seriously affected by the fact you have a felony conviction. Damages may be affected; but, as has been pointed out, you will be named as a party to the lawsuit irrespective of the felony. Time of the conviction and type (the crime) will be considerations as to whether the jury feels it has significance. Your general character and your relationship with your son are more important factors.

  11. Dean Bailis Gordon

    Contributor Level 10

    7

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Tell your lawyer about your prior felony conviction. In some cases, a lawyer can go to court and have the conviction changed to a misdemeanor. Regardless, you should always be completely truthful to your lawyer and when testifying. It may be possible to prevent the jury from hearing about your felony depending on the circumstances.

    Answering your inquiry does not establish an attorney-client relationship. California law requires that the... more
  12. Francis M Smith

    Pro

    Contributor Level 14

    8

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . My condolences on the loss of your son. You have not stated how long ago the felony was committed, and what it was. The rule of thumb here in NJ and in the Federal Courts is more than 10 years ago and the time is too remote and it won't be evidence. Also, if it was a crime that did not involve dishonesty (like embezzlement for instance) an argument can be made that it should not be evidence. The best bet is to have a very frank discussion with the attorney handling the case asap so he can order your criminal record if he needs to and be fully informed of same before he goes into the deposition with you. Good luck.

    Every situation is different, and good legal advice cannot be given based on a short question without an... more
  13. Robert Dourian

    Contributor Level 8

    6

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . You felony conviction may come up in two different ways in your case: (1) For the jury to assess your believability or credibility as a witness, and (2) Because this is a Wrongful death action, it could be considered as relevant to your relationship with your deceased son. What issue in your Wrongful Death action, turns on the credibility of your testimony as a witness? If the answer is- none, then the Court should exclude it by way of a pre-trial motion. If your son was not estranged from you as a result of the felony conviction, then your lawyer has grounds to keep it out as irrelevant to the Wrongful Death damages issues. If your felony conviction however, left an unresolved issue between you and your son, then your attorney has to find a way to embrace this fact, and incorporate it to your arguments. For example, you could argue that the untimely death of your son, prevented you from having the opportunity and time to make up for all the shame and harm that arose out of the felony conviction. But you served your time, and you paid your dues to society, but now because of his death, you can never make amends to your son....

  14. Maryam Parman

    Pro

    Contributor Level 15

    6

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Talk to your lawyer and seek his advice. He is in the best position to answer your question.

  15. John L. Schroeder

    Contributor Level 18

    7

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . The felony conviction is used to attack the credibility of a witness. Some states however have a time limit on when it can be used. So say your felony occurred more than ten years ago it would most likely not be allowed against you. Your lawyer should be familiar with the case law in your state. Your lawyer could file a motion in limine to block its use. In any event I wouldn't be to concerned.

  16. Scott J. Corwin

    Pro

    Contributor Level 18

    5

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . You have reasonable concerns revolving your criminal past. Without more information regarding the nature of the accident as well the insurance limits available in the claim. If you have counsel representing you at this time, then I would strongly recommend that you contact him or her regarding these questions of your case. If you do not have a lawyer representing you in your claim, you may be making a mistake. Wrongful death cases can be complicated to manage and if not handled properly, will end in a small settlement. I offer free consultations for all parties of motorcycle accidents to help victims understand their rights to fair settlements for losses. Fatal Motorcycle accidents in particular can be complicated as the responsible parties tend to shift blame to the motorcyclist. I wish you the best of luck and hope that I can be of greater help.

  17. Richard Andrew Harting

    Pro

    Contributor Level 18

    5

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . They will be entitled to ask in depo, but most likely will not come into play in a wrongful death case.

  18. Wendy Marie Schenk

    Contributor Level 16

    4

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . If you are represented by an attorney, my first thought is why haven't you discussed these concerns with with him/her? Your attorney should talk with you to review the deposition process, go over questions that will likely be asked and discuss your concerns.

    Generally, the credibility of a person with a felony conviction on their record can be attacked. Your attorney, if you have one, would be the one to strategize as to the best way to deal with the conviction if your case were to actually go to trial.

    I am licensed to practice law in the State of California. The laws of your jurisdiction may differ and thus this answer is for informational and educational purposes only and is not to be considered as legal advice. Since all facts are not addressed in the question, this answer could change depending on other significant and important facts. This answer in no way constitutes an attorney-client relationship.

  19. Daniel A. Seymour

    Contributor Level 5

    3

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . your son's case will be decided on the facts

Related Topics

Wrongful death and personal injuries

Wrongful death lawsuits can be filed if someone’s death is thought to be the fault of another person or business, either intentionally or because of negligence.

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