1. “Antecedents” means the history and record of the defendant. You should search for any previous convictions and any previous enforcement action taken against the defendant, whether formal or informal.
2. Rule 8.3 (b)(iv) of the Criminal Procedure Rules requires the prosecutor to provide details of the defendant’s previous convictions as part of the initial details of the prosecution case. The details should include the date of sentence, the Court, the offence(s) and the sentence(s) imposed.
3. If the defence dispute a previous conviction you should write to the clerk of the convicting court for a signed certificate of conviction (Crown Court) or copy of the memorandum of conviction (magistrates’ court) that you should produce in court. Some courts refer to this document as “a certified copy of the Court Extract”. It can be used at trial to prove the conviction.
4. An example of a letter to the clerk can be found in the Letters and Forms section.
Previous enforcement action
5. If you intend to draw any previous advice or other enforcement action to the attention of the court, you should write to the defendant setting out the details of the action. If the case proceeds to trial you may wish to ask the defendant to formally admit previous enforcement action under section 10 of the Criminal Justice Act (CJA) 1967.
6. Alternatively, the fact that the defendant was given previous advice etc may be proved by either a statement from the inspector concerned, served under section 9 CJA 1967, or by oral evidence from the inspector.
Use of antecedents in court
7. The prosecution may wish to refer to the defendant’s antecedents at trial as evidence of ‘bad character’. For additional information and guidance on the use of antecedents at trial, see Witnesses giving evidence in court in the Court Section. For further guidance on referring to previous convictions at the sentencing hearing, see Imposing the sentence in the Sentencing and Costs Section.