Proof of Other Crimes Can Be Used Against a Person in a Criminal Prosecution if They Are Relevant and More Probative than Prejudicial
In People v Lisa Lynne Bergman, the defendant was convicted of two counts of second degree murder, drunk driving, and operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license causing death. The trial court allowed prior actions taken by the defendant when she either drove unsafely, was passed out in her car, or was involved in an accident while impaired or under the influence of prescription substances, or in the possession of pills like Vicodin and Soma. The defense argued that these prior acts were prejudicial to the defense and should not be admitted into evidence. The court decided that the, “evidence was properly admitted to show the defendant’s knowledge and absence of mistake, and was relevant to the malice element of second degree murder because it was probative of the defendant’s knowledge of her inability to drive safely after consuming prescription substances.” The court determined that the prior acts were minor in comparison to the charged offense, and the probative value outweighed any prejudice. So, the defendant’s prior bad acts could be used to bolster the prosecution’s case against her in the current charge.
In order to keep the prosecution from being able to use prior bad behavior against you, a highly skilled lawyer must make well planned, well prepared and to-the-point arguments to the court. The judge must be convinced that to hear the prior bad acts evidence would cause an unfair trial or a violation of due process rights. Convincing a judge to rule against a prosecutor is often difficult to do, which is why you need the award winning, highly successful attorneys of LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. in your corner and working on your behalf.
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