State v. Jacobs, ___ N.C. App. ___, 798 S.E.2d 532 (2017), rev'd, 370 N.C. 661 (2018)

Held: 
No Error
Reversed by State v. Jacobs, 370 N.C. 661 (2018)
  • Relevant Facts: Defendant appeals conviction for first-degree sex offense with a child (Defendant is the father of the 13 year old victim). The state filed a motion in limine under G.S. 8C-1, Rule 412 to prohibit the defense from referencing any STDs that may have been detected in the victim (of which she was diagnosed with two) and that were not diagnosed in the defendant. The evidence was ruled inadmissible.
  • Rule 412 sets aside the idea that any previous sexual behavior of a complainant is relevant in a rape proceeding. The Rule is designed to protect the witness complainant from unnecessary humiliation and embarrassment while shielding the fact finder from unwanted prejudice that may result from evidence of the victim's prior sexual behavior that is of little relevance and low probative value to the case. The Rule prohibits evidence of a complainant’s sexual behavior unless it falls within one of four identified categories, one of which is evidence of specific instances of sexual behavior offered to show that the act charged was not committed by the defendant. Rule 412(b)(2).
  • Evidence that a complainant has an STD implicates Rule 412 because an STD denotes sexual behavior and is commonly associated with sexual activity, sexual intercourse, and carries the same type of stigma Rule 412 was designed to prohibit.
  • The offer of evidence that the victim was diagnosed with STDs that the defendant did not also have was properly excluded. It was offered for the purpose of raising speculation that the victim must have been sexually active with someone else. Without an offer of an alternative explanation or specific act to prove that the sexual act defendant was charged with was committed by someone else, the criteria under Rule 412(b)(2) was not satisfied.
Category:
Criminal Cases with Application to Child Welfare
Stage:
Evidence
Topic:
Rule 412
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