Proving Prior Convictions (Evidence Rule 902)
Just how hard is it for the prosecution to prove prior convictions in OVI cases?
The government has the burden of providing a foundation that the documents proving prior convictions should be relied upon. The Ohio Rules of Evidence, Evid. Rule 902, provides that extrinsic evidence of authenticity, as a condition precedent to admissibility, is not required under three (3) specific circumstances:
- Domestic Public Documents Under Seal: These can include documents from other states, districts or political subdivision.
- Domestic Public Documents Not Under Seal: These include documents without a seal, but bearing some attestation that the signatory had the authority to sign the document.
- Certified Copies of Public Records: Documents that are authorized by law to be recorded or filed and are actually recorded or filed in the appropriate public office.
The reported cases set forth in Ohio Driving Under the Influence Law, Weiler & Weiler, 2013-2014 ed., sec 11:9, p. 458, demonstrate that courts have proven lenient in allowing the government to use these documents. (See State v. Lewis, 2011-Ohio-911, allowing two “TRAFFIC CASE INFORMATION HARDCOPY” documents complied with Evid. R. 902; State v. Thompson, 2009-Ohio-314, interpreting a prior case that held the state had to prove with a certified conviction was “non-binding dicta” and allowing in the proof, and State v. Pisarkiewicz, 2000-Ohio-6609, wherein the court allowed faxed copies.
If you have prior convictions and face enhanced penalties, it is vital that you have an experienced DUI attorney on your side. Dayton DUI, “All I do is DUI defense.”