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Sexual Battery Virginia Rape Forcible Sodomy Lawyers Richmond City

Sexual Battery Virginia Rape Forcible Sodomy Lawyers Richmond City

BENNETT V. COMMONWEALTH
Facts:

Bennett was indicted by a grand jury on charges including abduction with intent to defile, carjacking in violation of Code § 18.2-58.1, forcible sodomy, aggravated sexual battery, two counts of rape, and attempted robbery. He was tried by a jury in the Circuit Court of the City of Richmond, and was found guilty of these offenses. The jury fixed his punishment at separate terms of life imprisonment on each of the rape, abduction with the intent to defile, forcible sodomy, and carjacking offenses. The jury also set his punishment at 20 years’ imprisonment for sexual battery and ten years’ imprisonment for attempted robbery. The trial court sentenced Bennett in accordance with the jury verdicts.

Issue:
  • Whether the evidence of other crimes is admissible?
Discussions:

The standard governing the admission of evidence of other crimes in the guilt phase of a criminal trial is well established. Evidence that shows or tends to show that a defendant has committed a prior crime is generally inadmissible to prove the crime charged. There are several exceptions to this general rule. One exception is that evidence of other crimes is admissible to prove a perpetrator’s identity when certain requirements are met.

One of the issues upon which “other crimes” evidence may be admitted is that of the perpetrator’s identity, or criminal agency, where that has been disputed. Proof of modus operandi is competent evidence where there is a disputed issue of identity. Evidence of other crimes, to qualify for admission as proof of modus operandi, need not bear such an exact resemblance to the crime on trial as to constitute a “signature.” Rather, it is sufficient if the other crimes bear a singular strong resemblance to the pattern of the offense charged. That test is met where the other incidents are sufficiently idiosyncratic to permit an inference of pattern for purposes of proof, thus tending to establish the probability of a common perpetrator.

If the evidence of other crimes bears sufficient marks of similarity to the crime charged to establish that the defendant is probably the common perpetrator, that evidence is relevant and admissible if its probative value outweighs its prejudicial effect. The trial court, in the exercise of its sound discretion, must decide which of these competing considerations outweighs the other. Unless that discretion has been clearly abused, the appellate court will affirm the trial court’s decision on this issue. In determining whether a prior crime is too remote in time to be considered by the fact finder, the trial court may consider the length of time that a defendant has been incarcerated between the date of the prior crime and the date of the offense charged. The judgment was affirmed; trial court did not abuse discretion in admitting testimony of the prior victims, as well as evidence that defendant was convicted of the prior crimes. The crimes all reflected a pattern, probative value of evidence outweighed any prejudicial effects.

The SRIS Law Group Virginia lawyers will do their best to help you with your sex crime case. Contact a Virginia lawyer from our firm to discuss your sex crime case. A Virginia lawyer from our firm will talk with you about your sex crime case in Virginia and advise you about your options. You can count on a lawyer from our firm to try their best to help you obtain the best result possible based on the facts of your case.

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Article written by A Sris

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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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