THE DEFENSE MOVES TO EXCLUDE ANY 1101b 1101(B) EVIDENCE OR EVIDENCE OF OTHER PRIOR CRIMES OR BAD ACTS
Generally, evidence of other crimes is inadmissible when offered solely to prove the accused’s criminal disposition or propensity to commit the crime charged, because the probative value of such evidence is outweighed by its prejudicial effect. (Evidence code section 1101b 1101(b), People v. Kelley (1967) 66 Cal.2d 232, 57 Cal Rptr 363, 424 P2d 947.) Ordinarily, evidence of a defendant’s commission of other crimes is admissible only where such evidence tends to show guilty knowledge, motive, intent, or presence of a common design or plan. (Id.)
The purpose of the rule precluding evidence of other crimes offered solely to prove the accused’s criminal disposition or propensity to commit the crime charged is to avoid placing him in a position of having to defend against crimes for which he was not charged and to guard against the probability that evidence of other crimes with little bearing on his actual guilt would assume undue proportions and unnecessary prejudice in the jurors’ minds, as well as to promote judicial efficiency by restricting proof of extraneous crimes. (People v. Sam (1969) 71 Cal.2d 194, 77 Cal Rptr 804, 454 P2d 700.)
Any doubt in the connection of the defendant’s prior offenses to the current charges should be resolved in favor of the defendant. (Id.)
In order to admit evidence of uncharged offenses to prove the existence of a common design or plan, a greater degree of similarity between the charged and uncharged offenses is required than the degree required to prove the defendant’s intent. In establishing a common design or plan, evidence of uncharged misconduct must demonstrate not merely a similarity in the results, but such a concurrence of common features that the various acts are naturally to be explained as caused by a general plan of which they are the individual manifestations. To establish the existence of a common design or plan, the common features must indicate the existence of a plan rather than a series of similar spontaneous acts, but the plan thus revealed need not be distinctive or unusual. In the same manner, evidence that the defendant has committed uncharged criminal acts that are similar to the charged offense may be relevant if these acts demonstrate circumstantially that the defendant committed the charged offense pursuant to the same design or plan he or she used in committing the uncharged acts. (People v. Ewoldt (1994) 7 Cal.4th 380, 27 Cal Rptr 2d 646, 867 P2d 757.)
Three requirements must be met before evidence of other crimes is admitted under Evidence Code section 1101: 1) the evidence must be relevant to some material fact at issue; 2) it must have a tendency to prove that fact; and 3) admissibility must not contravene policies limiting its admission. The latter requirement takes account of policies barring evidence which tends to prove guilt by proving disposition to commit crime, those barring use of prejudicial cumulative evidence, and the statutory provision (Evidence Code section 352) permitting exclusion of evidence when its probative value is outweighed by its prejudicial effect. (People v. Bigelow (1984) 37 Cal.3d 731, 209 Cal Rptr 328, 691 P2d 994.) For the purpose of admitting evidence under Evidence Code section 1101(b), which makes admissible evidence of a criminal defendant’s prior criminal acts where the evidence is relevant to prove motive, intent, plan, or guilty knowledge, the offered evidence must tend logically, naturally, and by reasonable inference to prove the issue upon which it is offered. Also, when evidence of prior offenses is presented to a jury, there is inherent danger of prejudice to an accused. Therefore, such evidence should be received with caution and admitted only when its probative value outweighs its prejudicial effect. (People v. Evers (1992, 4th Dist) 10 Cal.App. 4th 588, 12 Cal Rptr 2d 637.) Evidence Code section 1101(b), permits “other crimes” evidence if its purpose is to prove something other than a disposition to commit the crime charged. Its admissibility is carefully monitored and depends upon three principal factors: (1) the materiality of the fact to be proved or disproved; (2) the tendency of the uncharged crime to prove or disprove the material fact; and (3) the existence of a rule or policy requiring the exclusion of relevant evidence. To satisfy the materiality requirement, the fact sought to be proved must actually be in dispute. In deciding whether evidence of other crimes has a tendency to prove the material fact in dispute, the court must first determine if the uncharged offense serves logically, naturally, and by reasonable inference to establish that fact. To determine if there is a rule or policy requiring exclusion of the evidence, the court must consider that Evidence Code section 1101(a), expressly prohibits such evidence if the only theory of relevance is that the accused has a propensity to commit the crime charged, and that there is a grave danger of prejudice when evidence of an uncharged crime is given to a jury. Also, the evidence will not be admitted, even for a legitimate purpose, if it is too remote, and it must only be used if it has substantial probative value. If there is any doubt, the evidence should be excluded. (Blackburn v. Superior Court (1993, 4th Dist) 21 Cal.App.4th 414, 27 Cal Rptr 2d 204.)
Evidence of an accused’s prior offenses have probative value only when it tends logically, naturally and by reasonable inference to establish any facts material for the people, or to overcome any material matter sought to be proved by the defense. (People v. Haston (1968) 69 Cal.2d 233, 70 Cal Rptr 419, 444 P2d 91.) Evidence of other crimes is inadmissible as regards guilt when it is offered solely to prove criminal disposition; the probative value of such evidence as to the crime charged is outweighed by its prejudicial effect. However, such evidence may be properly admissible if it is offered to prove a fact material to the charged crime and meets the general test of relevancy as to such fact. (People v. Durham (1969) 70 Cal.2d 171, 74 Cal Rptr 262, 449 P2d 198.) Here, MR. BROWN’S sole prior conviction has no probative value in the current matter.
Regardless of the probative value of evidence of other crimes, the admission of such evidence involves the risk of serious prejudice and is always to be received with extreme caution. (People v. Griffin (1967) 66 Cal.2d 459, 58 Cal Rptr 107, 426 P2d 507.) Evidence of other crimes, if offered solely to prove criminal disposition or propensity on the part of the accused to commit the crime charged, must be excluded so as to avoid placing the accused in a position where he must defend against crimes with which he has not been charged, to guard against the probability that evidence of other criminal acts, having little bearing on the question whether defendant committed the charged crime, would assume undue proportions and unnecessarily prejudice defendant, and to promote judicial efficiency; in short, because its probative value is outweighed by its prejudicial effect. (People v. Stanley (1967) 67 Cal.2d 812, 63 Cal Rptr 825, 433 P2d 913.) Elements upon which the balancing process will favor probative value and admissibility of evidence of other crimes include motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, or absence of mistake or accident. Variations on some of these include elements such as proof of conspiracy where relevant and proof of the actor’s mental state in association with motive for the crime charged. (People v. Lynn (1971) 16 Cal.App.3d 259, 94 Cal Rptr 16.) The purpose of the rule precluding evidence of other crimes offered solely to prove an accused’s criminal disposition or propensity to commit the crime charged is not only to promote judicial efficiency by restricting proof of extraneous crimes but also to avoid placing the accused in a position of having to defend against crimes for which he was not charged, and to guard against the probability that evidence of other crimes with little bearing on his actual guilt would assume undue proportions and unnecessarily prejudice him in the juror’s minds. (People v. Haston supra. at 233.) Evidence of an accused’s other crimes, in view of its inherently prejudicial effect, should be scrutinized with great care, and should be received only when its connection with the charged crime is clearly perceived. (People v. Durham supra. at 171.)
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This post does not create an attorney-client relationship and does not constitute legal advice. Moreover, the law changes over time. Always consult an attorney before determining what motion s to file and what the current law is as to any particular topic.
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