To Kill a Mockingbird

Why does Atticus ask Tom about previously being in trouble with the law?

Is it because it is to see if he is violent and is actually a bad man? chapter 19

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Atticus begins Tom's questioning by asking him whether he has ever been convicted of a crime. Tom explains that he was once convicted for fighting because he could not pay the fine that would have released him. In an aside, the narrator explains that Atticus is showing how honest Tom is and that he has nothing to hide from the jury.