Bad Acts May not Come Back to Haunt After All

Can someone’s prior abusive history be used against him in a domestic violence related trial? Well, the Washington Court of Appeals recently considered that very issue, and found that the trial court erred by admitting evidence of a defendant’s acts of domestic violence and permitting a jury to consider that evidence. See State v. Moreno-Valentin (Wash. Ct. App. Sept. 29, 2015).

Under Washington law, evidence of a person’s other crimes, wrongs, or acts is not generally admissible to show that the person acted in conformity therewith. Those other crimes, wrongs or acts may, however, be admissible for other purposes, such as proof of motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, or absence of mistake or accident. If a court deems the evidence admissible, it must provide a limiting instruction to the jury explaining that the evidence is to be used only for the purpose identified, and not to prove that the person acted in conformity.

In State v. Moreno-Valentin, the appeals court found the exception noted above was not applicable and that it was improper to admit the defendant’s prior bad acts of domestic violence for the purpose of: (1) evaluating the victim’s credibility, and/or (2) evaluating the dynamics of the parties’ relationship. The Washington Court of Appeals held that the error in admitting the prior acts of domestic violence was so egregious that it warranted the reversal of the defendant’s conviction and ordered a new trial.

Anyone arrested for a domestic violence related crime in Washington State should immediately contact a Seattle domestic violence criminal defense attorney to protect your rights and interests. The Seattle domestic violence criminal defense attorneys that make up the criminal defense team of SQ Attorneys are highly qualified and reputable Seattle domestic violence criminal defense lawyers that are dedicated to providing top notch, aggressive representation for those arrested for crime all across Western Washington and the Greater Puget Sound region. The team creates success by working with law enforcement and the prosecuting attorney’s office to ensure that all facts and circumstances related to the criminal allegations are considered in creating the fairest, most equitable and just resolution possible in light of all the surrounding circumstances of the given case. So, whether cited for domestic violence related malicious mischief, assault, property destruction or some other crime, protect yourself … call SQ Attorneys immediately.  It could be the best decision you make all day!

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