In our last post, we spoke about a piece of legislation currently being pushed by Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby which would permit the admission of evidence of previous sexual assault allegations at trial.
The proposal specifically prohibits judges from excluding evidence that a defendant committed a prior sexual offense on the grounds that admitting such evidence would be unfairly prejudicial, meaning it would unfairly impact the way a jury views the case. The measure would only allow judges to exclude such evidence in cases where a specific finding is made by the court.
A major reason the proposed legislation is being so heavily promoted by Mosby is that she knows that it ties prosecutors’ hands in a certain number of cases. While unfortunate, the law also undoubtedly protects defendants who have been wrongly accused. Though there is not widespread support for the law at present, it is a reminder of the need for a strong advocate in criminal cases.
Navigating the rules of evidence is one of the many important tasks a skilled criminal defense attorney has to take up when taking a case to trial. Because of the way the rules are set up and utilized, having a strong command of the rules allows a criminal defendant to bring in the best possible evidence in support of his or her case, keep out improper and disadvantageous evidence prosecutors want to bring in, and to raise objections for appeal down the road, if that becomes necessary.
Those who have been accused of sexual offenses, of course, should always work with an experienced advocate to ensure their rights are protected throughout the criminal process, not only with respect to the rules of evidence, but with every aspect of their case.