Florida Court Discusses Admissibility of Prior Bad Acts at Criminal Trials

It is not uncommon for a person facing criminal charges to have a history of prior criminal activity. In the interest of providing all criminal defendants with a fair trial, however, the State typically must refrain from introducing evidence of prior crimes at trial. There are certain exceptions when evidence of prior bad acts is admissible, though, as discussed in a recent case in which the defendant appealed his conviction for drug charges. If you are charged with distributing narcotics or any other drug-related offense, it is prudent to speak to a knowledgeable Clearwater drug crime defense attorney to help you fight to protect your rights.

The Defendant’s Charges and Trial

It is reported that the defendant was charged with multiple drug crimes. During the trial, the prosecution referenced the defendant’s alleged use of a fake identity to rent an apartment during its opening statement. The jury ultimately convicted the defendant as charged, after which the defendant moved for a mistrial on multiple grounds, including the fact that the trial court permitted the prosecution to mention crimes the defendant allegedly committed but for which he was not charged. The trial court denied the defendant’s motions, after which he appealed. On appeal, the trial court’s ruling was affirmed.

Evidence of Prior Bad Acts

Under the Federal Rules of Evidence, evidence regarding wrongs, bad acts, or other crimes that are introduced to demonstrate a person’s character for the purpose of proving that the person acted in accordance with that character on a particular occasion is inadmissible. Florida courts interpreting this exclusionary rule, however, have repeatedly held that evidence of criminal acts other than the charged offense may be admissible if it constitutes intrinsic evidence that is outside of the scope of the rule.

Evidence will be deemed intrinsic if it is an uncharged offense that arose out of the same act or series of acts as the charged crime and is either necessary to complete the story of the crime or is intricately entangled with the evidence pertaining to the charged offense. Further, evidence will be intricately entangled with the evidence of the charged offense if it creates a natural and integral part of the witness’s recollection of the circumstances surrounding the offenses for which the defendant was charged.

In the subject case, the defendant’s use of a fake identity to rent the property where he stored illegal narcotics was intricately entangled with his alleged drug crimes and, therefore, was not inadmissible. Further, the court gave a limiting instructing to the jury, noting that the defendant was only on trial for narcotics charges. Thus, the appellate court affirmed the trial court’s ruling.

Speak with an Experienced Clearwater Attorney

If you are accused of a drug crime, it is important to speak to an attorney to understand what evidence the State may try to use against you at trial. Attorney William Hanlon of Hanlon Law is an experienced Clearwater drug crime defense attorney who can advise you of your rights and help you to seek the best outcome available under the facts of your case. You can reach Mr. Hanlon by calling 727-897-5413 or using the form online to set up a conference regarding your case.

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