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General Laws

Section 21. The conviction of a witness of a crime may be shown to affect his credibility, except as follows:

First, The record of his conviction of a misdemeanor shall not be shown for such purpose after five years from the date on which sentence on said conviction was imposed, unless he has subsequently been convicted of a crime within five years of the time of his testifying.

Second, The record of his conviction of a felony upon which no sentence was imposed or a sentence was imposed and the execution thereof suspended, or upon which a fine only was imposed, or a sentence to a reformatory prison, jail, or house of correction, shall not be shown for such purpose after ten years from the date of conviction, if no sentence was imposed, or from the date on which sentence on said conviction was imposed, whether the execution thereof was suspended or not, unless he has subsequently been convicted of a crime within ten years of the time of his testifying. For the purpose of this paragraph, a plea of guilty or a finding or verdict of guilty shall constitute a conviction within the meaning of this section.

Third, The record of his conviction of a felony upon which a state prison sentence was imposed shall not be shown for such purpose after ten years from the date of expiration of the minimum term of imprisonment imposed by the court, unless he has subsequently been convicted of a crime within ten years of the time of his testifying.

Fourth, the record of his conviction for a traffic violation upon which a fine only was imposed shall not be shown for such purpose unless he has been convicted of another crime or crimes within five years of the time of his testifying.

For the purpose of this section, any period during which the defendant was a fugitive from justice shall be excluded in determining time limitations under the provisions of this section.

Upon order of the court, a party may obtain a witness’s criminal offender record information from the department of criminal justice information services.

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