Character propensity in sexual assault cases

The law allows prosecutors and civil plaintiffs to offer evidence of the defendant’s other acts of sexual molestation or sexual assault on any matter that is relevant. If the prosecution wants to offer this evidence, it generally must disclose it at least 15 days in advance. Now must the prior offense of sexual assault have resulted in the conviction? Interestingly, evidence of an uncharged crime as well as a conviction would be admissible under this rule.

According to the Cornell Law School, rule 413 has four requirements. First, the court must find that the defendant is accused of sexual assault now. Second, the court must find that there is proffered evidence that the defendant committed another offense of sexual assault. Third, that other offensive sexual assault must be relevant to the current case in some way. Fourth, the notice requirements must be satisfied.

According to Federal Rules of Evidence, Rule 414 is a very similar provision. It relates to evidence of similar crimes in child molestation cases. It has essentially the same requirements as rule 413, except instead of sexual assault cases it relates to cases of child molestation and offers a definition of child molestation.

Rule 415 concerns existence civil cases that had similar undertakings, not criminal cases, and may have included sexual misconduct charges. In essence, the rule provides that in a civil case in which relief is grounded a person’s suspected engagement in sexual misconduct actions, evidence that that party committed another offense of sexual assault or child molestation is welcome and may be deliberated by the court. Thus, character propensity evidence may have a huge risk of unfair prejudice and carry with it a little probative value.