State v. Jacobs, 370 N.C. 661 (2018)

Reversed and Remanded
There is a dissent.
  • 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 motions in limine under G.S. 8C-1, Rule 412 to prohibit the defense from referencing two STDs that were diagnosed in the victim but were not diagnosed in the defendant. The evidence was ruled inadmissible. During his case-in-chief, Defendant submitted an offer of proof pursuant to Rule 412, which was a medical expert report that previewed potential expert testimony of the implications of the STD evidence. After considering the offer of proof, the trial court reaffirmed its earlier decision to exclude the evidence.
  • Rule 412 of the NC Rules of Evidence, referred to as the Rape Shield Statute, makes the complainant’s sexual behavior irrelevant because of its low probative value and high prejudicial effect except in four narrow situations, one of which is “evidence of specific instances of sexual behavior offered for the purpose of showing that the act or acts charged were not committed by the defendant.” Rule 412(b)(2).
  • The excluded STD evidence addressed in Defendant’s offer of proof fell within the Rule 412(b)(2) exception. The results and report by a proposed expert who is a certified specialist in infectious diseases “affirmatively permit an inference that defendant did not commit the charged crime [and]… diminishes the likelihood of a three-year period of sexual relations between defendant and [the child].” The state’s argument that the defendant offered the evidence that inferred sexual activity by the victim so as to unnecessarily embarrass and humiliate her was rejected by the supreme court, which found the purpose of the evidence appears to be what the defendant purports it to be: support for his claim that he did not commit the crime.
  • New trial ordered. Court of appeals decision, summarized here.
Criminal Cases with Application to Child Welfare
Rule 412
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