State v. Arnold

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Evidence
  • Date Filed: 04-02-2014
  • Case #: A149987
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Ortega, P.J. for the Court; Sercomb, J.; and Hadlock, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

In order to admit evidence of a prior bad act, the state must show that the acts were "so distinctive that both crimes can be attributable to one criminal. In other words, the modus operandi must be unusual."

Defendant appealed a conviction of unauthorized use of a vehicle, attempting to elude a police officer, two counts of first-degree criminal mischief, unlawful possession of methamphetamine, recklessly endangering another person, and reckless driving. Defendant assigned error to the trial courts admission of evidence of a prior bad act (uncharged theft of a vehicle). In order to admit evidence of a prior bad act, the state must show that the acts were "so distinctive that both crimes can be attributable to one criminal. In other words, the modus operandi must be unusual." If only one prior bad act is used, the showing must be even stronger. Here, the fact that both crimes involved someone backing into a police car at a high rate of speed was not so "unusual" as to be "attributable to one criminal." Reversed and remanded.

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