Monday, March 18, 2013
MN Law on the Use at Trial of Defendant's Prior Acts of Domestic Abuse
The prosecution is allowed to introduce into evidence at a criminal trial prior acts of domestic abuse committed by a defendant against a victim of domestic abuse or against any other family or household members. See https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=634.20. The statute has been interpreted to permit the prosecution to also introduce evidence of prior assaults committed by an accused against former girlfriends. Evidence of similar conduct is admissible at trial unless the probative value of the evidence is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice. The trial judge will weigh this issue.
The prosecution will typically file a pre-trial motion seeking permission from the court to introduce evidence at trial of similar conduct by the accused. The state will detail for the court at a motion hearing the anticipated testimony of the former victims of domestic abuse. If the prosecution wins on the motion to introduce similar conduct evidence, the defense will need to request that the court instruct the jury prior to the admission of the evidence that the jury is not to convict the accused based on conduct that is not a part of the present charge. It may be advisable for the defense at this point to stipulate to the facts regarding the prior assaults with limited details rather than have the jury hear live testimony from the former victims with graphic details.
If you or someone you know has been charged with domestic abuse or domestic strangulation, you will need an experienced criminal defense attorney to defend your freedom and reputation. Call Minneapolis criminal defense attorney Robert J. Shane for a free phone consultation at (612) 339-1024 or visit his website for more information at www.criminallawyerminnesota.com. Mr. Shane has 30 years of criminal defense experience and maintains a winning record.