May 16, 2024 By WK Law

It Is Easier To Be Convicted Of A Sex Crime In California Than Other States: When Can Prior Uncharged Acts Be Admitted Against The Accused At Trial? Evidence Code Section 1108

In 2020, Harvey Weinstein was convicted in New York on charges of rape and sexual assault. However, in a surprising turn of events, New York’s highest court agreed to hear Weinstein’s appeal in 2022. The appeal centered around issues regarding the conduct of the trial and the admission of testimony of certain witnesses. In a ruling by a 4-3 majority of the New York Court of Appeals, it was determined that allowing three additional women to testify about assaults by Weinstein was legal error and required a reversal of Weinstein’s conviction. These women’s allegations, not included in the criminal charges against Weinstein, were considered in violation of New York’s Molineux rule, which typically prohibits such testimony regarding “prior bad acts.” The majority opinion stated that this testimony from the three women breached the rule and compromised the fairness of the trial.

However, it is highly likely that if Weinstein had been tried in California his conviction and sentence would have been upheld.

Our experienced criminal defense attorneys can guide you through the legal process. Call Wallin & Klarich today toll-free at (877) 466-5245 for your free consultation with our experienced attorneys.

How The Law Differs In California

Under EC Section 1108 in California, District Attorneys have long had the ability to introduce testimony from “other” alleged victims of sexual abuse by the accused to prove certain key elements. Specifically, Section 1108 allows for the admission of evidence regarding the defendant’s commission of other sexual offenses to show a pattern of behavior, propensity for committing such crimes, and potentially the defendant’s motive or intent. This contrasts with the stricter limitations seen in New York’s Molineux rule.

Section 1108 of the California Evidence Code has several key elements that distinguish it from the laws in other states. In effect, it makes it easier for a prosecutor to obtain a conviction in certain sex crime cases in California. Section 1108 of the California Evidence code provides the following:

  1. Admissibility of Evidence: It permits the introduction of evidence showing the defendant’s commission of other sexual offenses.
  2. Demonstration of Pattern: The provision allows for this evidence to demonstrate a pattern of sexual behavior or propensity to commit sexual crimes.
  3. Motive or Intent: Evidence can be used to infer the defendant’s motive or intent in committing the alleged crime.
  4. Consideration of Similar Acts: Courts can consider acts of sexual abuse similar to those being charged, even if they occurred in different circumstances or with different victims.
  5. Burden of Proof: The standard for admitting such evidence under section 1108 is not to prove the defendant committed the other acts beyond a reasonable doubt, but rather that it is more likely than not that the other offenses occurred.

In balancing the rights of the accused against the inclusion of such testimony, California courts are tasked with determining whether the prior sexual abuse allegations are “sufficiently similar in nature” to the crimes being tried. Additionally, they must consider whether these allegations are too remote in time to be relevant to the current case. The overarching aim is to ensure that the evidence is not so prejudicial as to outweigh its probative value.

Recent California cases where the court upheld a conviction with a fact pattern similar to Weinstein’s have underscored the potency of EC Section 1108. In these cases, the courts found that the prior allegations were sufficiently similar and not too remote, bolstering the prosecution’s case.

The punishment under Penal Code 288 for committing lewd acts upon a child can be severe, underscoring the gravity of these crimes. Specifically, for an act committed against a child under the age of ten, the sentence can be as severe as 5 years to life in prison, highlighting the significant impact of these allegations.

Given these dynamics, it is crucial for those accused of sex crimes to retain a law firm with deep knowledge of California’s legal landscape. A skilled defense team must not only be versed in the latest laws but also adept at navigating the complex interplay between the rights of the accused and the admission of evidence from prior allegations. The stakes in sex crime cases are exceedingly high, with the accused facing the possibility of a lengthy prison sentence. Therefore, the selection of a competent defense team is a critical decision that can significantly influence the outcome of a case.

Call Wallin & Klarich Today!

Our experienced sex crime defense attorneys at Wallin and Klarich can guide you through the legal process. Call Wallin & Klarich today toll-free at (877) 466-5245 for your free consultation with our experienced attorneys.

If you are facing sex crime charges, you need an aggressive defense attorney, with extensive knowledge of California laws, to fight for your freedom. Our law firm has been successfully defending persons accused of sex crimes for over 40 years.  Call us for a free consultation to see how we can help you at 877-466-5245. We will be there when you call. We have offices in Irvine, Pasadena, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Torrance, Victorville, West Covina, and Anaheim. Call us for a free consultation at 877-466-5245.

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