This flow chart walks you through the analysis for determining whether impeachment evidence is admissible, and what kind of impeachment evidence can be offered under different circumstances.
Generally, reputation and opinion testimony for a witness’s character for untruthfulness is admissible. Reputation and opinion testimony for a witness’s character for truthfulness, on the other hand, is only admissible if the witness’s truthfulness has been attacked.
Evidence of specific instances of conduct can always be inquired into on cross-examination of a witness. Extrinsic evidence (i.e., evidence other than testimony on examination) is generally not allowed, unless it is evidence of a criminal conviction. Extrinsic evidence of a criminal conviction is generally not admissible if the conviction is more than 10 years old, or if it is a misdemeanor in which dishonesty or proof of a false statement were not elements of the crime. Extrinsic evidence of felony convictions 10 years old or less is admissible in civil cases and under some circumstances in criminal cases. Extrinsic evidence of misdemeanor convictions 10 years old or less is admissible if the elements of the underlying crime required proof of dishonesty or a false statement.
As you can see, there are a lot of rules to keep track of, and different circumstances in which each rule may apply. This chart is designed to help you keep track of all of the moving parts.