Bad Act Evidence is something that has been very relevant in Pennsylvania criminal law recently. Specifically, this is true in the case of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania vs. Bill Cosby. In that case the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office is attempting to bring in Bad Act Evidence against Bill Cosby in order to show that he sexually assaulted the alleged victim. The government in that case attempted to bring in evidence that Cosby sexually assaulted more than a dozen Evidence other women in addition to the alleged victim that he is accused of sexually assaulting. The government tried to bring in this evidence of Cosby's alleged other crimes, in an attempt to show that he had the same motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, absence of mistake, or lack of accident
Pennsylvania Rule of Evidence 609 pertains to when a witness may be impeached with a prior conviction. Pennsylvania allows for either party, in a criminal case, to impeach any witness with a select category of prior convictions. In Pennsylvania, this select category of prior convictions is known as "crimen falsi." Crimen falsi means crimes involving dishonesty. In order for a crime to be classified as crimen falsi, the offense must involve some element of deceit or dishonesty, ie theft or forgery.
Pennsylvania law permits either party to introduce the use of expert testimony during trial, so long as the party complies with the rules of evidence. The party must first assert that an expert is needed to give the type of testimony and evidence sought to be admitted. Stated in other words, a court will only allow the testimony of an expert witness, if the testimony calls for scientific, technical, or other special knowledge, which a lay witness would be unable to testify. Therefore, the party must show that there is an issue at trial that can only be resolved by that expert witness' testimony.
Pennsylvania Rules of Evidence allow a party to confront a witness with that witness's prior inconsistent statements. The purpose of confronting a witness with a prior inconsistent statement is to attack that witness's credibility. Often times this is done when a witness has given statements to the police and preliminary hearing testimony which differs from the witness's trial testimony.
Under Pennsylvania Rules of Evidence, during trial, either party may attack the credibility of any witness with evidence that the witness has been convicted of a crime involving dishonesty or false statement. Generally, the conviction or the date of release from confinement, whichever is later, must be within 10 years from the date at which the witness is being impeached.
Pennsylvania Rule of Evidence generally prohibits the admission of what is know as "other bad act" evidence. Other bad act evidence is any evidence that references a bad act in the defendant's past. This evidence does not only apply to convictions or cases where criminal charges were filed, but includes uncharged bad acts as well. The purpose behind this exclusionary rule is to prevent the Commonwealth from admitting evidence to make the accused look like a bad person. In order for the Commonwealth to admit this type of evidence, it has the burden of proving this evidence does not go to show that a person is of bad character, but rather that the evidence can show the defendant's motive, intent, modus operand, knowledge, or plan. This evidence must be presented to the trial judge during a pre-trial motion. Lastly, admission of this type of evidence leads to the most reversible errors at the Superior Court.
The central concern of the Confrontation Clause is to ensure the reliability of the evidence against a criminal defendant by subjecting it to rigorous testing in the context of an adversary proceeding before the trier of fact. The word "confront," after all, also means a clashing of forces or ideas, thus carrying with it the notion of adversariness.
Hearsay is a statement made out of court and offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted. Generally speaking, hearsay evidence is inadmissible during trial. However, if the hearsay statement meets an exception, that statement can be admitted for its truth. One of those exceptions is known as the exception for statements made by a co-conspirator. Conspiracy is an agreement between two or more people to agree to commit acts that constitute a crime.