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Inadmissibility of Character Evidence - Term Paper Example

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The paper presents the main aim of the Federal Rules of Evidence (404), the set of rules that govern the admission of facts in the U.S. federal court system, is to regulate the evidence that jurors may rely on to decide cases presented before them (Rothstein, Raeder & Crump, 2003). …
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Inadmissibility of Character Evidence
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Inadmissibility of Character Evidence
The main aim of the Federal Rules of Evidence (404), the set of rules that govern the admission of facts in theU.S. federal court system, is to regulate the evidence that jurors may rely on to decide cases presented before them (Rothstein, Raeder & Crump, 2003). The Rules of Evidence are also aimed at eliminating the distrust that may exist amongst jurors while also encouraging the admission of evidence in close cases (Rice & Delker, 2000). The Rules also ensure that the juries have a wide spectrum of evidence to rely on without being bogged down with too much evidence that is practically unnecessary, time-wasting, confusing, repetitive or inflammatory. In other words, the Rules are purposeful in eliminating evidence that may lead to unfair prejudice against a party.
One case that illustrates the inadmissibility of character evidence in a criminal proceeding is the Greenberg v. Aetna Ins. Co., 427 Pa. 494, 235 A.2d 582 (1967) in which it was established that the plaintiff was erroneously permitted to testify that he had a heroic record having served in the U.S. Army during WWII (Paco de, N.d.).
Inadmissibility of Character Evidence in Rape Cases
The admissibility of character evidence in respect of a rape victim as presented by a defendant is limited if the court case is for assault, intent to commit rape or rape. If the defendant seeks to use opinion or reputation evidence to show the sexual conduct of the rape victim, the character evidence remains inadmissible (Scott, 2000) as it may be inflammatory. The defendant, however, may only enjoy admissibility of character evidence if they intend to show specific instances of behavior by a sex victim in proof of the claim that a party different from the defendant was the source of injury, semen or other physical evidence. Alternatively, the defendant may enjoy admissibility of character evidence to show that their sexual behavior with the victim was consented to by both parties. In the two cases, the evidence is used solely to prove the defendant’s innocence. Read More
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