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 sort of prior sexual behavior.
Violent behavior and other criminal acts are much more difficult to get in, but if the person was involved in some sort of similar sexual behavior as is being prosecuted in the current case, the courts typically will let that evidence in.
California Evidence Code 1108
There's a number of different factors that the prosecutors have to be able to prove in order to get this evidence in. Once they prove that, the judge will let it in.
Obviously, that's a very effective weapon for prosecutors to be able 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.
That's the Evidence Code that permits the prosecutors to get in prior bad acts and it really does have a spill-over effect against a criminal defendant.
Usually where I see them being able to get it in is in weak cases. So, they've got a weak prosecution and in order to dirty the defendant up, they will use of prior acts.
Weak Sex Crime Cases
This is to make the defendant look bad to the point where the jury will basically say, we don't care whether they've got the evidence or not.
They want the jury to convict him because of all of the prior bad acts that the prosecutors are showing us, where he's doing other bad things to woman and they're sexually related.
So, that really does seem to be the target. Unfortunately, the legislature has backed that philosophy up by permitting this other evidence in.
I think 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 for to make the defendant look bad in order 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, obviously, 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 in order to be able to make sure that you get a fair trial, and obviously, the best outcome possible.
The other way that this other 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 take that into consideration 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 sex crime and the prosecutors are trying to get in either prior convictions or just prior bad acts.
That's another strange thing about it. The acts that are permitted in 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 with in the criminal case and at the same time, fighting the charge that you're actually charged with.
They can only convict you of one charge, but they're using that prior 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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