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Prior Sex Crime Accusations - California Evidence Code 1108

Posted by Ronald D. Hedding | Apr 12, 2023

Regarding sex crime cases, one of the favorite things that prosecutors like to do is bring up past conduct against the defendant to prove the current charges. 

It doesn't seem fair that prior accusations or convictions should be used against a defendant in a new filing. Under California Evidence Code 1108, in sex crimes cases, prosecutors are allowed to introduce evidence in court that a defendant committed other sexual-related crimes in the past.

Prior Sex Crime Accusations - California Evidence Code 1108

This means a defendant doesn't need to be convicted of their past sex crime, only that they were arrested. This also means their charges could have been dismissed or never even filed but still used against them.

The defense's argument will always be that a new filing should be able to stand on its own if it's a strong enough case, and the prosecution shouldn't be permitted to use other incidents to prove the case.  But unfortunately, for criminal defendants who are facing sex crime charges, that is not the case.

So almost always, when the prosecutors attempt to get in prior acts against a defendant who is charged with a sex crime, they are going to be successful, and that's because I can tell you right now, having practiced sex crime defense crime for 30 years, the deck is stacked against those clients charged with sex crimes.

Presumed Guilty

There is a presumption that you're guilty.  That's part of the problem.  It smacks right against our most fundamental rights in Los Angeles, California, and surrounding counties: you should be presumed innocent. 

The prosecutor should have to prove the case against you and not be permitted to use other evidence that doesn't have anything to do with the facts and circumstances surrounding the charges that you're facing. 

But unfortunately, that is the reality, and that's why you'll need to find the best criminal defense attorney.

I've been practicing sex crime defense now for 30 years.  I've worked for the district attorney's office.  I've worked for a superior court judge, and since the early 1990s, I've defended people charged with sex crimes like you. 

What Are the Limitations?

There are some limitations on what the prosecutors are permitted to do when allowing in prior convictions or accusations for sex crime charges. So look at that language very clearly, because they can get in prior convictions and allegations. 

Somebody could have come forward in the past and claimed that you did something to them, and there wasn't enough evidence to prosecute you, and they're going to use that case to try to prove the current charges. 

They can't get a conviction on that case unless they charge you, but they can use that case to bolster their current case, and if they can get enough of those cases, it makes it a real problem for the defense.

So, that is one limitation that the Judge has the ability and discretion to limit the amount of prior sex crime cases that the prosecution can use. But, at some point, it's overkill, too much, prejudicial, and unfair to the defendant. 

Blocking Prior Sex Crime Accusations

I have successfully limited the number of prior convictions or accusations that a particular defendant has. When it comes to this argument that we want to make to try and block prior sex crime accusations or convictions, the main thing that we're going to argue is that they are more prejudicial than probative.

Los Angeles Sex Crime Lawyer

What that means is they're prejudiced.  Their unfair prejudice is so wrong that even if they have probative or relevant value, it's not enough to shield the defendant from the prejudice related to these prior charges

So, that will be the main argument we're going to make.  Then, we must examine the facts and circumstances surrounding those prior cases to determine how to make that argument.

Because what ends up happening is, if they can get those prior cases, you're fighting a battle within a battle. In other words, you're trying to defend yourself from criminal charges, which are usually very serious, and you're facing prison and lifetime registration. 

But, at the same time, you're being attacked with these other cases, so now you have to try to defend those, and at some point, a jury is going to say, why is this guy being accused of so many different things?

We'll have to discuss this when we assess whether or not you want to fight your case or try to find a solution. So, if you need the best, you've come to the right place.  Pick up the phone now.  Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding.  I stand ready to help.

About the Author

Ronald D. Hedding

What Makes Ronald Hedding Uniquely Qualified To Represent You? I've been practicing criminal defense for almost 30 years and have handled thousands of cases, including all types of state and federal sex crime cases. All consultations are discreet and confidential.

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