The rules of evidence in regards to admissibility of evidence are important to be successful in a trial. The jury should not be exposed to prejudicial material which may put the defendant in a precarious position to ensure that the trial is fair. In the People v Asmar the prosecution sought permission to adduce evidence about the defendant’s past with the complainant.
Mr. Asmar, the defendant was charged with rape, sodomy and sexual abuse. The Defendant however, stated that the sex acts between them were consensual and began taking place 2 months prior to the acts complained of. As a result the prosecution sought to introduce in their case-in-chief testimony from the complainant and her employer, to the effect that one month before the alleged rape, sodomy and sexual abuse took place, the defendant accosted the complainant, sexually touched her and made a lewd proposal. As a result to the defendant’s actions, the complainant took certain actions designed to impede the defendant’s access to the store and to herself. Authorization was sought to allow the testimony that the complaint orally reject this defendant’s advances but also that she told her employer to contact the defendant’s employer for the purpose of requesting that the defendant make deliveries at times while the complainant was not at work. Additionally, the prosecution also sought authorization to permit testimony that two week earlier the complainant asked a customer to remain in the store when the defendant appeared and that that she told her husband and another friend about the defendant’s words and acts and contends that another friend told her that defendant attempted to kiss her. It was asserted by the district attorney that the request was relevant and non-prejudicial and that it reflects the complainant’s state of mind on the issues of consent, forcible compulsion, fear and her relationship with the defendant.
A criminal court employs a two-part test for determining when evidence of other acts is admissible under the other-act rule; first, the evidence offered must be relevant to prove a material issue other than the defendant’s character, and second, the probative value of the evidence must outweigh the prejudicial effect. Evidence otherwise relevant to prove some material fact is not necessarily rendered inadmissible even though it reveals that defendant has committed another crime; however, court must balance probative value of evidence against its potential prejudice to defendant. In order for such evidence to be probative, the prosecution must establish a logical link between the evidence of the past assaults by the defendant on the complainant and the material issues of forcible compulsion and lack of consent.
The prosecution believed that the testimonies were relevant because it showed the state of mind of the complainant. Forcible compulsion became an important issue to show that the complainant was in fear of immediate or future death, or physical injury to one’s self or another person. In cases of forcible compulsion, complainant’s knowledge of defendant’s past acts of violence weigh on issues of consent and fear as she thereby would become aware of danger of physical resistance. The complaint’s testimony about her state of mind in period prior to alleged rape was relevant where defendant would testify that he and victim had been having consensual intercourse for two months before incident. The victim’s testimony was not being offered on issue of guilt or to prove commission of acts but rather showed her state of mind on issue of relationship and subsequent consent. Her testimony established that she feared defendant during the same time he contended they were having sexual intercourse, and defendant himself raised issue of nature of their relationship.
The motion was granted in part as it was held that the prosecution will be permitted to testify on matters which reflect upon the issue of consent, fear and the relationship between the parties. The testimony was admissible because it showed her state of mind to show that they were not in a sexual relationship at that time since consent was a live issue. However, complainant and other witnesses could not testify that complainant said she was afraid defendant would rape her. Additionally the defendant’s testimony of her attempts to limit contacts with defendant prior to incident was relevant as defendant contended they were having consensual sexual intercourse during that time.
A Nassau County Crriminal Lawyer said the rules of evidence are crucial in trial since the jury should not be exposed to prejudicial information. If you are currently experiencing any criminal problems, you will need the assistance of a criminal lawyer to help clear your name and dismiss your case in court. Stephen Bilkis and Associates have criminal practitioner that could render legal service to assist you with any of your legal dilemmas.