State v. Davis

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Evidence
  • Date Filed: 06-29-2016
  • Case #: A154743
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Duncan, P.J. for the Court; Lagesen & Flynn, JJ.
  • Full Text Opinion

Under the doctrine of chances, for prior acts to be probative of intent the acts must bear something close to a point-by-point correspondence to the alleged crimes.Simply because the act has occurred more than once does not allow for any inference of a defendant's present guilt.

Defendant appeals judgment convicting him of two counts of first-degree theft, ORS 164.055, and two counts of second-degree theft, ORS 164.045. The trial court erred in admitting evidence from a previous book theft because it was not relevant to show intent based on the doctrine of chances. The doctrine of chances states that multiple instances of similar conduct are unlikely to occur accidentally. For prior acts to be probative u intent the acts must bear something close to a point-by-point correspondence to the alleged crimes. Simply because the act has occurred more than once does not allow for any inference of a defendant's present guilt. In this case the defendant admitted to committing the actus reus and the real dispute was to the intent of the defendant to return them. The prior book-sale theft was not admissible because it did not bear something close to a point-by-point correspondence to the charged conduct and did not meet the stringent test for similarity. Where other-act evidence is not sufficiently similar to be admissible to prove intent it necessarily follows that it also is not sufficiently similar. However, because the admission of evidence was harmless to the judgment the court must affirm the judgment despite any error committed at trial. The portion of the judgment requiring defendant to pay attorney fees reversed, otherwise affirmed.

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