When it comes to criminal allegations, judges are generally reluctant to allow consideration of a defendant’s “prior bad acts.” The reasoning here is pretty straightforward: Providing proof of previous misconduct has the potential to poison juror perception of the defendant, leading to potentially unfair outcomes.
The fear is that a conviction will be based on evidence that the defendant committed a different crime besides the one being charged. Similarly, there is concern that jurors may be swayed to convict someone on the basis that they’re a “bad person,” rather than on solid evidence of a crime.
Why is this more of an issue in Florida domestic violence cases? As a Palm Beach domestic violence defense lawyer can explain, courts are more likely to allow evidence of prior bad acts in domestic violence cases than in others.
Prior Bad Acts Reflect Poorly on Defendant
Prior bad acts are generally only admissible when they are relevant and necessary to establish motive, intent, mistake, identity or a common scheme/plan. Domestic violence cases often turn on issues of credibility (he said/she said), particularly if an alleged victim recants. In these cases, introducing evidence of prior violence can make a huge difference between conviction and acquittal.
Such evidence can be used to: Continue reading