Rules of Evidence

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The term character evidence is used in reference to the documents and testimonies that are used in an endeavor to prove that the person being prosecuted acted in a particular manner on the basis of his disposition and character. According to such documents and testimonies, this character is prompted by events such as the one where the defendant committed the offense. Character evidence is admitted on the basis of three main factors. The first one is that the prosecution must prove that the evidence is important and can help in securing the conviction of the defendant. The evidence must also be offered in a form that eliminates ambiguity and deception. The last factor is the need for the prosecution to take into account the nature of proceedings, i.e. whether they are criminal or civil.

Fact Scenario

Thomas User is a drug abuser. He is eighteen years of age, and is on probation for possessing ecstasy and methamphetamine. User’s criminality has no known victims. The police report indicate that User attracted the attention of the law enforcement agents after he was seen idling around a crime hotspot for two hours. Upon his searching, he was found to be in possession of eight tablets of ecstasy and twelve hits of methamphetamine. User had been convicted twice as a juvenile; one for being in possession of a huffing drug, and the second one for possessing alcoholic beverages.

As an adult, he has been convicted once for the crime of second-degree menacing. He has an unreliable employment record. Indeed, he has been in gainful employment at a fast-food restaurant once, and the duration of employment lasted for only four months. Apart from the four months in question, User has not been engaging in any gainful employment for a period of two years. According to him, he has actually been surviving on drug peddling, and it has been established that he has a drug-related habit which is closely related to the current arrest. He has not been evaluated for the purpose of being accorded medical assistance. In fact, it is not clear whether User would wish to attend any treatment program.

User’s IQ is low. He has an intelligence quotient of 68, and this means that he is developmentally disabled. It is even not clear whether User is mentally ill. Investigations have revealed that he dropped out of high school at the tenth grade. His physical health is normal, although medical evaluations indicate that he is actually underweight. He also has two missing teeth, probably as a result of a scuffle. Further interrogation revealed that he is a father to a child born out of wedlock. In fact, he and the mother of the child do not communicate. He says that his child is roughly 2 years old, and the mother has never claimed child support.

The term static risk factors refer to those historical accounts of an individual life that are not subject to variations. They are closely associated with what is referred to as the long-term risk. These factors include the nature of the offence, age at the initial conviction, previous convictions, and the mode of operation. Other common factors are the marital status of the offender as well as his working history. It has been established that Thomas User’s criminality has a history. He has had two convictions for misdemeanor while he was still a juvenile. In both of these convictions, he had been in possession of illegal substances. This case, and others in his criminal history, makes User a high-risk criminal. He also has an unstable employment history, and this means that there is a significant amount of idle time at his disposal. All these factors contribute to his criminality since they act as triggers.

Detaining User, based on his past, may be unfair to him because he has no ability to alter his past. A significant amount of these factors may be eliminated as time goes by. For instance, User may get married and probably find gainful employment. Being in the married status is believed to facilitate the lowering of risks and criminogenic needs of an individual. Similar assessment of risk contributing factors is helpful while placing offenders in their appropriate categories. It helps establish the likelihood of individuals to re-offend, and more so where sexual or violent crimes are involved. For instance, a sex offender or a violent robber is regarded to be of higher risk than a junior who peddles drugs. For the purpose of this case, it is imperative to appreciate that User is quite young, and he could be in the experimentation age. The biggest challenges could be the lack of gainful employment, the unmarried status, and lack of parental guidance.

Much of User’s activities could be motivated by the dynamic risk factors as opposed to the static ones. Dynamic risk factors tend to fluctuate overtime, and so is their contribution to criminality. These factors include stress, fitness, and smoking behavior. Other dynamic risk factors involved in the case of User include negligence and alcohol abuse. User is not deceptive or high tempered as it has been learned during his interrogation period. He also doesn’t engage in such demeaning behaviors as stealing so as to buy drugs. This means that most of the factors that contribute toward his criminality can change, allowing him to abide by the societal norms.

Considering the above discussion leads to the conclusion that the character evidence being used against Thomas User should not be considered in this case. This is because his character may change, and so are his criminogenic needs. The most appropriate evidence in this case would be physical evidence, since considering character evidence would be inappropriate. Lack or inadequacy of other pieces of evidence would prompt an acquittal. Alternatively, User may be referred to a medical facility for proper evaluation before being required to engage in a gainful employment. Reconciling his life has the potential of reforming is character in a remarkable way.

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