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BlogsPublications | May 26, 2016
2 minute read

Evidence of prior acts of criminal sexual conduct is not always admissible under MCL 768.27a

The Michigan Supreme Court held in People v. Uribe, No. 32112, that even though Michigan law permits the admissibility of evidence of the defendant’s past bad acts involving child sexual abuse, under certain circumstances, the admissibility of the evidence is not automatic.  There are several factors that should be considered in judging admissibility of this type of evidence, including differences between past acts and the current charged crime and the reliability of the evidence supporting the occurrence of the past acts.  Further any evidence of this type of prior bad act must still pass muster under MRE 403—it must be more probative than prejudicial.

Defendant was charged with five counts of criminal sexual conduct stemming from the molestation of his daughter’s half-sister.  The prosecutor attempted to introduce evidence that the defendant had also molested his own daughter, but the trial court excluded the evidence.  The Court of Appeals reversed, finding that the trial court misapplied MCL 768.27a, based on analysis of the Michigan Supreme Court’s decision in in People v. Watkins, 491 Mich 450 (2012).

The Michigan Supreme Court agreed with the Court of Appeals that the trial court should not have excluded the evidence of the past acts of molestation.  However, the Court disagreed with the Court of Appeal’s analysis of People v. Watkins, so the Court vacated the judgment of the Court of Appeals, reversed the trial court’s ruling, and remanded the case back to the trial court.