One of the key issues for defense attorneys at trial is limiting the focus of the prosecution’s evidence to evidence of the offense charged, and preventing the admission of any evidence of other prior charges, convictions, or bad acts of the defendant. This task is made somewhat easier in Virginia by our longstanding rule against evidence being admitted solely to prove the general criminal propensity of the defendant.
Rule 2:404 of the Virginia Rules of Evidence states that “evidence of a person’s character or character trait is not admissible for the purpose of proving action in conformity therewith on a particular occasion.” We have that rule to protect defendants from the inference that results from the entry of evidence of prior bad acts: that the defendant has a propensity to commit criminal acts.
Virginia Rule 2:404 protects defendants by generally prohibiting that … Read More »
In its latest session, the Virginia General Assembly passed many new laws that will affect Virginia residents– most of which go into effect on July 1, 2013. Here are brief summaries of five that might interest or impact you the most:
Texting While Driving. As of July 1st, Virginia Code Section 46.2-1078.1 will make it a traffic infraction punishable by a $125 fine to “[m]anually enter multiple letters or text in the device as a means of communicating with another person” or “[r]ead any email or text message transmitted to the device or stored within the device, provided that this prohibition shall not apply to any name or number stored within the device nor to any caller identification information.” Exceptions are carved out for texting while lawfully parked or stopped, or using a GPS. Prior to this new law going into effect, … Read More »
Sex crimes often involve slightly different rules and procedures than other areas in criminal law. Many sexual assaults are not reported immediately, excluding the possibility of physical evidence and enhancing the importance of witness testimony. When cases like this go to court, the Judge must carefully determine which out of court statements are allowed to be repeated and by whom. Hearsay, defined as any “out-of-court statement that is being offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted,” is generally inadmissible as evidence. However, depending on the reason the statement is being offered, hearsay is sometimes allowed. The hearsay rule and its exceptions govern what kinds of out of court statements can be repeated to prove something in court.
There are several enumerated exceptions to the hearsay rule within the Virginia Rules of Evidence.
One of these exceptions is the “recent complaint … Read More »