Can Prosecutors Use Prior Bad Acts Against a Defendant in a Sex Crime Prosecution? This is a big issue that's been around since I've been practicing criminal defense now for about 27 years, and more and more, the pendulum has swung in the direction of helping the prosecutors prove these sex crime cases by being able to bring in other incidents that the defendant has been involved with.
Typically, they're going to be incidents of some prior sexual behavior.
Violent behavior and other criminal acts are much more challenging to get in. Still, if the person was involved in similar sexual behavior as is being prosecuted in the current case, the courts typically will let that evidence in.
California Evidence Code 1108
There are several different factors that the prosecutors have to prove to get this evidence in once they prove that, the judge will let it in.
That's a very effective weapon for prosecutors to prove a sex crime case in Los Angeles or anywhere. Across the country, they're typically able to get what they call 1108 evidence.
The Evidence Code permits the prosecutors to get in prior evil acts, and it does have a spill-over effect against a criminal defendant.
Usually, where I see them getting it in is in weak cases. So, they've got a weak prosecution, and to dirty the defendant up, they will use prior acts.
Weak Sex Crime Cases
This is to make the defendant look bad to the point where the jury will say; we don't care whether they've got the evidence or not.
They want the jury to convict him because of the prior evil acts that the prosecutors are showing us, where he's doing other nasty things to women, and they're sexually related.
So, that does seem to be the target. Unfortunately, the legislature has backed that philosophy up by permitting this other evidence.
The flip side of it is if you have a good case, why don't you prove the case? Why do you need this other evidence to make the defendant look bad to try to turn the tide in your favor?
Blocking Prior Bad Sex Acts in Court
So, if you're going to fight a case, if you're going to take it to trial, you're going to want an attorney:
- who can try to block this evidence from coming in, and;
- if it does come in, who can deal with it?
- who can counter it?
- who can explain it?
Take different measures to make sure that you get a fair trial, and obviously, the best outcome possible.
The other way that this additional evidence is used in addition to jury trials is it is used when they are negotiating these sex crime offenses
If you've got a bunch of prior incidences, they're certainly going to consider that when deciding what to do in the current situation.
Criminal Defense Lawyer for California Sex Crimes
So, if you or a loved one is charged with a sex crime and the prosecutors are trying to get in either prior convictions or just prior evil acts.
That's another strange thing about it. The acts that are permitted don't have to be convictions.
So, somebody could have just made an allegation against you, the prosecutors find out about, and now they're getting that evidence in against you, even though you haven't been convicted of it.
That makes it very difficult to be able to deal with. What usually ends up happening is you've got a trial within a trial.
In other words, you're fighting charges that you're not even charged within the criminal case and, at the same time, resisting the amount that you're charged with.
They can only convict you of one charge, but they're using that last activity to try to get the conviction in the current case.
If you need help, pick up the phone. Ask for a meeting with Ronald Hedding. I stand at the ready to help you.
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