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Shortly thereafter, the state charged Williams with three counts of first-degree statutory sodomy. To make such a showing, Williams must demonstrate a rule forbidding the use of propensity evidence in prosecutions for sex offenses committed against minors is a “fundamental principle of justice.” Id. The State may not show defendant's prior trouble with the law, specific criminal acts, or ill name among his neighbors, even though such facts might logically be persuasive that he is by propensity a probable perpetrator of the crime. 469, 475-76 (1948) (citation and footnotes omitted). 172, 180-82 (1997), though it has never squarely held due process forbids the admission of propensity evidence in the prosecution's case-in-chief, e.g., Estelle v. The practice of admitting evidence of the defendant's prior sexual misconduct for purposes of proving the defendant's propensity to commit the sex offense with which he was charged has long been a feature of American law. See also Leonard, supra, § 3.3.6 at 145-55 (examining sex offense cases and concluding some nineteenth century courts “almost certainly violated the ban on character as circumstantial evidence of conduct” in such cases); Thomas J. Potentially devastating evidence of little or no relevance would have to be excluded under Rule 403. As the Castillo court noted, “to ask that question is to answer it.” Rule 414 is constitutional on its face. See also Schaffer, 851 F.3d at 180 (“[P]ropensity evidence may cause ‘undue prejudice’ to a defendant and, as a result, threaten his right to a fair trial.
In its entirety, this section provides: Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 17 and 18(a) of this article to the contrary, in prosecutions for crimes of a sexual nature involving a victim under eighteen years of age, relevant evidence of prior criminal acts, whether charged or uncharged, is admissible for the purpose of corroborating the victim's testimony or demonstrating the defendant's propensity to commit the crime with which he or she is presently charged. Nothing in the text of article I, section 18(c) requires more and, as explained in the following section, the record in this case is adequate to permit appellate review of the circuit court's decision to admit this evidence. Here, the record shows the circuit court – though it made no express finding of legal relevance before admitting Williams's 1996 guilty plea – carefully considered relevant factors and admitted the evidence only after being convinced its probative value was not substantially outweighed by its danger of unfair prejudice. He makes no effort to distinguish this claim from his due process claim, however, nor does he cite any authority for his jury trial claim separate and distinct from the due process claim. 1989) (express finding not required “if the considerations germane to balancing probative value versus prejudicial effect are readily apparent from the record”) (citation omitted); United States v. 1989) (express finding not required “if the purpose for admitting the other acts testimony is apparent from the record, and the district court's decision to admit was correct”) (citation and quotation marks omitted); United States v. 1985) (express finding not required if “the correct reasons for the ruling are apparent on the record”) (citations and quotation marks omitted).14.
The circuit court sentenced Williams as a predatory sexual offender to three concurrent sentences of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for 50 years. Williams appealed, and the court of appeals transferred the case to this Court on the ground that the appeal raised an issue within the exclusive appellate jurisdiction of this Court as set forth in article V, section 3, of the Missouri Constitution. Early in their relationship, Williams informed Mother he had a prior conviction for sexually molesting a young girl. At the time, Mother and Father were still living together. 1912) (explaining that a “long recognized and well established” exception to the “rule that the prosecution may not prove another and distinct offense of the same kind for the purpose of rendering it more probable that [the defendant] committed the offense for which he is on trial ․ [applies] in prosecutions involving sexual offenses”); State v. Finally, and of particular note, Federal Rule of Evidence 414 allows the use of evidence in federal cases that the defendant committed a prior act of child molestation for the purpose of demonstrating propensity to commit the act of child molestation with which defendant is charged. Today, state courts that do not have evidentiary rules comparable to Federal Rules 414 through 415 allow this evidence either by stretching traditional 404(b) exceptions to the ban on character evidence or by resorting to the so-called “lustful disposition” exception, which, in its purest form, is a rule allowing for propensity inferences in sex crime cases.
That issue is whether article I, section 18(c), added to the Missouri Constitution in 2014, violates due process. For similar reasons, this Court rejects Williams's due process challenge to article I, section 18(c). Mother continued to maintain a relationship with Williams and later introduced Williams to M. When Father discovered Williams was a registered sex offender, he repeatedly told Mother he did not want Williams around the children. Thus, “the history of evidentiary rules regarding a criminal defendant's sexual propensities is ambiguous at best, particularly with regard to sexual abuse of children.” [Castillo, 140 F.3d at 881.]Le May, 260 F.3d at 1025-26 (some internal citations omitted).
The frequency of Williams's abuse declined after Williams and Mother separated in 2012, though Williams continued to abuse Victim on some occasions. Courts that follow the common-law tradition almost unanimously have come to disallow resort by the prosecution to any kind of evidence of a defendant's evil character to establish a probability of his guilt. But even if this Court were to conclude the general ban against propensity evidence is “so rooted in the traditions and conscience of our people as to be ranked as fundamental,” Egelhoff, 518 U. Instead, the amendment only allows the use of such evidence “in prosecutions for crimes of a sexual nature involving a victim under eighteen years of age.” The historical practice regarding the use of propensity evidence in these limited circumstances weighs decidedly against Williams. By the early part of the 20th century, a significant number of state courts allowed the introduction of evidence of sexual misconduct between a defendant and his victim (of any age) for the purpose of proving the defendant's propensity to commit the sex offense with which he was charged. All evidence introduced against a criminal defendant might be said to be prejudicial if it tends to prove the prosecution's case ․. Nor does the admission of even highly prejudicial evidence necessarily trespass on a defendant's constitutional rights.
In September 2013, Victim reported Williams's abuse to the police. Not that the law invests the defendant with a presumption of good character, but it simply closes the whole matter of character, disposition and reputation on the prosecution's case-in-chief. See Le May, 260 F.3d at 1025 (historical practice has routinely, if not uniformly, allowed the use of propensity evidence in such circumstances). 305, 320 (1858) (“[C]ourts in several of the states [have] shown a disposition to relax the rule [barring propensity evidence] in cases where the offense consist[ed] of illicit intercourse between the sexes.”). The introduction of such evidence can amount to a constitutional violation only if its prejudicial effect far outweighs its probative value ․. Thus, the claim that Rule 414 is unconstitutional can be reduced to a very narrow question: “whether admission of ․ evidence that is both relevant under Rule 402 and not overly prejudicial under 403 may still be said to violate the defendant's due process right to a fundamentally fair trial.” Castillo, 140 F.3d at 882.