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Child Pornography York Virginia Lawyer Aggravated Sexual Battery Penetration

Child Pornography York Virginia Lawyer Aggravated Sexual Battery Penetration

Wheaton v. Commonwealth
Facts:

The Circuit Court of York County, Virginia, convicted defendant of two counts of taking indecent liberties with a child, two counts of aggravated sexual battery, and object sexual penetration. Defendant appealed. On appeal, defendant contended that the trial court erred in admitting evidence of references to child pornography found on his family computer and that the prejudicial effect of such evidence outweighed any probative value.

Child Pornography York Virginia Lawyer Aggravated Sexual Battery Penetration

Child Pornography York Virginia Lawyer

Issue:
  • Whether the trial court erred in admitting evidence of references to child pornography found on his family computer?
Discussions:

The court of appeals agreed, despite the Commonwealth’s argument that the existence of child pornography and defendant’s false statement to a detective concerning it were probative of his mental state, his intent to commit the crimes on trial, and his attitude toward the victim. Intent was not an issue. The trial came down to an assessment of the victim’s credibility and defendant’s. Proof of defendant’s bad character and unsavory interests did not address his credibility but placed him in a highly prejudiced posture before the jury. Moreover, the computer images were created well subsequent to his alleged molestation of the victim. When defendant denied on cross-examination that he lied, that answer was conclusive and further questioning should have ceased. Pursuing such had the effect of converting the trial from an assessment of the charges against him to a general inquiry as to his character, thus denying him a fair trial on the issues.

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Article written by A Sris
Disclaimer:

These summaries are provided by the SRIS Law Group. They represent the firm’s unofficial views of the Justices’ opinions. The original opinions should be consulted for their authoritative content.

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