State v. Goff

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Evidence
  • Date Filed: 10-09-2013
  • Case #: A144540
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Sercombe, J. for the Court; Ortega, PJ.; and Egan, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

Under OEC 404(3), evidence of prior misconduct is inadmissible to show intent if defendant has not admitted the act in question.

Defendant appealed convictions of multiple counts of assault against his wife, failure to perform duties of a driver, tampering with physical evidence, and disorderly conduct. Defendant argued that two prior domestic violence incidents should have been excluded as impermissible character evidence under OEC 404(3). Defendant moved in limine to exclude prior misconduct as irrelevant because he denied any involvement with the crime. The State argued that prior misconduct was relevant to show Defendant’s intent because it showed cause for his wife’s injuries and that they were intentional. Initially, the Court of Appeals affirmed without opinion, but the Oregon Supreme Court remanded finding that the evidence was inadmissible. The State conceded that the evidence is inadmissible to show intent in this case. Alternatively, the State argued that the evidence is admissible to show motive and plan and that the erroneous admission was nevertheless, harmless. The Court held that evidence of prior misconduct is relevant to prove intent only when the defendant admits to the act. In response to the State's alternative arguments, the Court held that new theories may not be raised on appeal and that the erroneous admission was harmful, as it related to the central issue of the case. Reversed and remanded in part, otherwise affirmed.

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