Assemblyman NELSON T. ALBANO
District 1 (Cape May, Atlantic and Cumberland)
Allows judge to admit evidence of prior sexual offenses in current sexual offense actions.
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
An Act concerning admissibility of evidence in sexual offense cases and supplementing Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes.
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1. Notwithstanding the provisions of Rule 404 of the New Jersey Rules of Evidence or any other provision, in a criminal prosecution involving any of the following sexual offenses: sexual assault or aggravated sexual assault as set forth in N.J.S.2C:14-2, criminal sexual contact or aggravated criminal sexual contact as set forth in N.J.S.2C:14-3, fourth degree lewdness as set forth in subsection b. of N.J.S.2C:14-4 or endangering the welfare of a child by engaging in sexual conduct which would impair or debauch the morals of the child as set forth in N.J.S.2C:24-4, evidence of the defendant's prior commission of any of these sexual offenses may be introduced by the prosecution, although it may not be offered to prove conduct on a specific occasion and may only be admitted after a determination by the trial judge that the evidence is admissible under Rule 403 of the New Jersey Rules of Evidence.
2. This act shall take effect immediately.
This bill, modeled after a California provision, provides that where a defendant is charged with a criminal sexual offense, evidence of the defendant's commission of previous criminal sexual offenses will not automatically be deemed inadmissible under the New Jersey Rules of Evidence.
Ordinarily, in criminal actions, evidence of prior wrongs, crimes or acts is inadmissible. There are currently several exceptions to this rule. This bill would create an additional exception in criminal sexual offense cases due to the uniquely high percentage of recidivism among those who commit sexual offenses.
Most important, the judge retains the ultimate discretion whether or not to exclude evidence that is either not relevant or is relevant but is more prejudicial to the defendant than probative.