Question: Under British and Australia laws a jury in a criminal case has no access to information about the defendant's past criminal record. This protects the person who is being accused of the crime.
Some lawyers have suggested that this practice should be changed and that a jury should be given all the past facts before they reach their decision about the case.
Do you agree or disagree? Give reasons for your answer.
It is juries duty to judge whether an accused one is guilty or not in a criminal case. In order to reach the right decision, they have to collect as much information as possible in the trial. However, in British and Australia laws it is not possible for jury to reach defendant's past criminal record. I believe that knowing this information may lead juries to have the wrong decision in a trial.
First, a jury has to give an impartial judgment. Knowing (about?) defendant's past criminal record, a jury may have bias against the defendant. If the defendant has committed a crime before, then jury might believe that he/she is more likely to commit the same or another crime again. Therefore they may reach a wrong decision about the trial because of the impact of the defendant's past criminal record on the jury.
Second, for juries, there is no benefit of having access to defendant's past criminal record. It is not possible to judge someone according to his/her past criminal records. Juries has to reach their decisions by the aid of evidences. Therefore, defendant's criminal records cannot be considered as an evidence. There has to be concrete evidences that shows whether the accused one committed the crime or not.
On the other hand, in some cases the accused one has committed the same crime s/he is accused of in the recent trial. In this case, the sanction should be severer. If the jury cannot reach defendant's past criminal records, then they will not know whether the accused one has commited the same crime before or not. Thus, the sanction will not be severer even though the defendant has committed the same crime before.
In conclusion, I believe that a jury should be able to access every information about the case, except the defendant's past criminal records. If they access to this information they might consider this information as an evidence itself and this might effect the decision they will reach.