Use of Evidence of Other Crimes

Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorney
Admissable Evidence of Other Crimes in Criminal Cases

Robert Hambrick Photo 1Usually in criminal cases evidence of other crimes, uncharged misconduct, wrongs, or acts acts are inadmissible, because the evidence could be prejudicial if heard by an impartial jury. But often, particularly in assault, battery and sexual battery cases evidence of other crimes or misconduct is admissible even over the objections of a Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorney if is is “relevant to prove a material fact in issue, including, but not limited to, proof of motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, or absence of mistake or accident.”



This ability of Prosecutors upon motion to the Court to bring this evidence of other crimes to a jury’s attention is known as Florida’s Williams Rule. see Section 90.404(2)(a), Florida Evidence Code, which governs the admissibilty standards of evidence of other crimes in criminal cases.

The Williams Rule has been a source of litigation over it’s fairness as applied in Florida, because highly prejudicial facts may be presented to a Trial Jury more to establish proof of the Defendant’s bad character than to establish motive, plan or intent for the crime being charged. In Federal cases there is a similar rule that is often used by prosecutors to secure pleas or win at trial. Either way attorney Robert Hambrick must always be ready to object to the introduction of prejudicial evidence of other crimes or misconduct.

The following procedural requirements must be followed before evidence of a Defendant’s prior criminal acts or uncharged misconduct can be admitted in a jury trial:

  1. The State Attorney must file a Notice of Intent to Offer Similar Fact Evidence with the Court.
  2. The notice must be filed at least 10 days before trial.
  3. The notice must with particularly describe the acts that the State plans on entering into evidence a trial.
  4. The Court must grant the Defendant who is confronted with William’s Rule evidence a hearing on the admissibility of the character evidence.
  5. If the Court allows the William’s Rule evidence to be admitted, then the Court must also instruct the jury about the limited reason for the introduction of the Williams Rule evidence; that the jury can not convict the defendant based upon the William Rule offense, but only convict the Defendant of the crime for which he or she is charged.


In Federal Courts in the Middle District of Florida in Tampa, character evidence, evidence of other crimes and other alleged misconduct which a Federal Criminal Defense Attorney objects to as being prejudicial is governed by the Federal Rules of Evidence found at Section 404(b), which states as follows:

“Prohibited Uses. Evidence of a crime, wrong, or other act is not admissible to prove a person’s character in order to show that on a particular occasion the person acted in accordance with the character. (2) Permitted Uses; Notice in a Criminal Case. This evidence may be admissible for another purpose, such as proving motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, absence of mistake, or lack of accident. On request by a defendant in a criminal case, the prosecutor must: (A) provide reasonable notice of the general nature of any such evidence that the prosecutor intends to offer at trial; and (B) do so before trial — or during trial if the court, for good cause, excuses lack of pretrial notice.”

It’s important to note that no specific notice requirements are required from the Government unless requested by the defense in a criminal case. Considering how prejudicial and harmful to the defense this evidence can be, it’s unconscionable that there isn’t a rule which requires a Federal Prosecutor to notify the defense of the intent of use this evidence as is necessary under Florida’s William’s rule as described above.

Further, the Notes of the Advisory Committee on the Proposed Rules of Federal evidence make it clear how powerful and prejudicial evidence of other crimes or misconduct can be in a criminal prosecution:

“Character evidence is of slight probative value and may be very prejudicial. It tends to distract the trier of fact from the main question of what actually happened on the particular occasion. It subtly permits the trier of fact to reward the good man to punish the bad man because of their respective characters despite what the evidence in the case shows actually happened.”

If you’ve been charged with any crime where the prosecution is attempting to use evidence from other misconduct you will need an effective Lawyer who is familiar with William’s Rule evidence as well as all of the possible prejudicial attacks upon your reputation which may be made by the State Attorney’s Office. Robert Hambrick understands there are many factors involved in any charge and how charges are filed by prosecutors, since charges can range in severity from a first-degree misdemeanors to first-degree felonies.