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State v. Hutton

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 10-09-2013
Case #: A142745
Schuman, P.J., Wollheim, J., and Nakamoto, J. for the Court.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/docs/A142745A.pdf

Evidence: Evidence of prior bad acts can only be used to prove intent under OEC 404(3) where the defendant admits committing the actus reus or the judge instructs the jury that it must first find the defendant committed the actus reus before using prior bad acts to determine intent

Defendant was accused of fourth degree assault and harassment for hitting the victim in the mouth and pressing a cigarette in her chest.  At trial, the prosecutor filed a motion to admit evidence of a prior time Defendant hit the victim as evidence of a prior bad act to prove intent under OEC 404(3).  The Defendant argued that intent was not at issue since the Defendant was denying that the event did not happen.  The trial court admitted the evidence, the jury found the Defendant guilty, and the Court of Appeals affirmed the decision.  The Supreme Court vacated the decision based on two recent decisions and remanded to the Court of Appeals for reconsideration.  Even where intent is a contested issue, evidence of prior bad acts can only be used to prove intent under OEC 404(3) where the defendant admits committing the actus reus or the judge instructs the jury that it must first find the defendant committed the actus reus before using prior bad acts to determine intent.  The trial court erred since the evidence was admitted without these conditions and the Defendant denied the charged acts ever occurred.  Reversed and remanded.