Can The Prosecution Use Prior Incidents Of Domestic Violence In A Pending Case?

Typically, no.

The law generally does not allow the prosecution to introduce evidence of past domestic violence to convict someone in a domestic violence case. There are a couple of reasons for why this is the law.

One reason is that we don’t want people convicted just because they did other bad things in the past. For example, if you shoplifted something ten years ago and are now charged with shoplifting (but you’re innocent), it’s just not fair to use that old case against you. People change, and we don’t want to punish them again over their past mistakes.

A second reason is that it would make cases too difficult to defend and make them way too long. Imagine if you had to defend yourself against five, six, or seven false allegations of past domestic violence. Witnesses might have died or moved away, memories would have faded, and you’d have multiple mini-cases in every trial.

There are exceptions to this rule, though.

One exception is if you’re charged with assault on a family member – second offense. Obviously, in that kind of case the state has to prove that you were previously convicted of assault on a family member, so the jury is going to know that there was at least one past domestic violence incident.

A second exception is if you’re charged with continuous family violence. Again, because the state has to prove that you assaulted the complainant more than once, the jury is going to learn about more than one incident of domestic violence.

A third exception is if you “open the door” to past incidents of violence in your testimony. For example, if you testified that you never hit the complainant before, the state could put on evidence of past alleged violence against the complainant to prove that you’re lying.

Thankfully, in the majority of domestic violence cases, you only need to worry about the current allegation, not anything you may or may have not done in the past.

For more information on Prior Incidents Of Domestic Violence, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (713) 936-4521 today.

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