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State v. Roelle

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 10-16-2013
Case #: A148785
Egan, J. for the Court; Armstrong, P.J.; and Nakamoto, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/docs/A148785.pdf

Evidence: Under OEC 404(3), evidence of a prior criminal conviction used to prove the intent element of a crime, when the defendant denies the act took place, requires a jury instruction limiting them to first find the defendant committed the act before considering the prior conviction for intent.

Defendant was convicted of strangulation of his girlfriend, AM.  The theory of defense was that the incident never took place, as there were no marks or bruises of any kind.  At trial, over Defendant's objection, a prior criminal conviction for assault against AM was introduced to show the Defendant's intent, as well as the detailed facts leading to the conviction by AM.  The court submitted the following jury instruction pertaining after AM's testimony: "[AM]'s testimony is only admissible and relevant as to the knowledge element of the crimes charged. You may not consider her testimony for any other purpose. More specifically, you may not use her testimony to infer that Defendant has a propensity or tendency to commit the charged crimes." Defendant appealed, arguing the trial court erred by admitting the prior conviction.  The Court held that the jury instruction was improper because it did not limit the jury's consideration of the evidence on the issue of intent to after they had first found that Defendant had committed the charged acts.  As such, the "jury easily could have considered the details of Defendant's prior assault against AM to conclude that Defendant committed the charged acts or that Defendant had a propensity to commit domestic violence against his partners, in violation of OEC 404(3)."  Reversed and remanded.