Evidence Code 782

Challenging Complaining Witness Credibility in a Sexual Assault Case Legal services

The ability to scrutinize and challenge the credibility of those who stand against a criminal defendant is critical to ensuring a fair trial. California Evidence Code section 782 provides a procedural framework for introducing evidence of the sexual conduct of a complaining witness in a sex crimes case to attack their credibility, specifically under the broader provisions of section 780.

Understanding Evidence Code Section 782

California Evidence Code section 782 serves as a crucial tool for criminal defense attorneys when challenging the credibility of a complaining witness in cases involving sexual conduct. The complaining witness is the alleged victim of the crime charged.

The key takeaway from is that specific instances of sexual conduct of the complaining witness can only be introduced when they relate to the witness’s credibility and are deemed relevant by the court.

Procedure to Introduce Specific Evidence of Sexual Conduct

In order to introduce this type of evidence, the defense must file a written motion under seal with an affidavit stating the relevance of evidence of the sexual conduct of the complaining witness that is proposed to be presented and how it is relevant to attacking the credibility of the complaining witness. If the judge finds this offer of proof is sufficient, a hearing will be held where the defense attorney can question the complaining witness. If at the conclusion of that hearing the court finds that the evidence proposed to be offered is relevant and is not inadmissible pursuant to section 352, the court may make an order stating what evidence may be introduced by the defendant and the nature of the questions, and the defendant may then offer this evidence before the jury.

What Type of Evidence is Evidence of Sexual Conduct?

Evidence of sexual conduct includes text, images, videos, or pictures from a social media account about the complaining witness which depicts sexual content, sexual history, nudity or partial nudity, intimate sexual activity, communications about sex, sexual fantasies, and other information that appeals to a prurient interest, unless it is related to the alleged offense.

Examples of Applying Section 782

Prior False Accusations: In a rape case, the complaining witness alleges that the defendant sexually assaulted her at a party. The defendant vehemently denies committing the crime. The defense uncovers evidence that the complaining witness has made false accusations of sexual misconduct in the past on Instagram. By utilizing Section 782, the defense can introduce these specific instances of prior false accusations to demonstrate a pattern of behavior that is relevant to the witness’s credibility.

Inconsistent Statements: In a sexual battery trial, the complaining witness stated that she never had engaged in any type of sexual intercourse before the alleged battery. However, the complaining witness’s OnlyFans account reveals intimate sexual activity. After following the protocol required in section 782, the defense can tease out these inconsistencies in complaining witness’s testimony on cross-examination. This can highlight the unreliability of the witness’s account and raise doubts about their credibility.

Evidence Code section 782 is a valuable tool for criminal defense attorneys when challenging the credibility of a complaining witness in cases involving sexual conduct. If you are facing charges for a sex crime, it is critical that you hire an attorney that understands the complicated protocol of evidence of the complaining witness’s sexual conduct in order to challenge their credibility . As a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience, Los Angeles criminal defense attorney Michael Kraut has extensive experience in strategically utilizing this section in an effort to secure justice for his clients.

For more information about the criminal justice process, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1520, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.

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