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61 Ark. L. Rev. 107 (2009)
A Dangerous Leap: The Admission of Prior Offenses in Sexual-Assault and Child-Molestation Cases in Arkansas

handle is hein.journals/arklr61 and id is 111 raw text is: A Dangerous Leap: The Admission of Prior
Offenses in Sexual-Assault and Child-
Molestation Cases in Arkansas
One of the values that lies at the foundation of the
American     criminal-justice    system    is   the    defendant's
presumption of innocence. At the very core of that presumption
is the tradition that the defendant will be tried only for the
wrongs charged and not for who he is or what he has done
otherwise in his life.' These principles rest upon the spirit of
fair play which, perhaps more than anything else, distinguishes
Anglo-American law from the jurisprudence of other nations.2
To ensure this spirit of fair play, justice requires that a man be
convicted based only on the merits of the crimes charged; if
there be any other offenses, they may be examined separately
in a court of law where proper findings can be made.3 This
ideal generally holds true-unless that defendant happens to be
charged with a sex offense in the State of Arkansas.
Arkansas has codified this principle in Arkansas Rule of
Evidence 404 which generally prohibits the admission of
character evidence.4 The purpose of this rule is to protect
criminal defendants from being convicted based on who they are
instead of whether they committed the crime charged.5 Through
a gradual progression over the last century, the Arkansas
Supreme Court has carved an exception to Rule 404's
prohibition on character evidence for cases involving sexual
The author would like to thank Don Judges, E.J. Ball Professor of Law, University
of Arkansas School of Law, and Justin Jones, J.D. 2007, University of Arkansas School of
Law for their time, advice, and support throughout the editorial process. The author would
also like to thank his mother, Susan Cossey, for continuing her constant support throughout
this endeavor.
1. Alford v. State, 223 Ark. 330, 334, 266 S.W.2d 804, 806 (1954).
2. Id. at 333-34, 266 S.W.2d at 806.
3. Id. at 334, 266 S.W.2d at 806.
4. ARK. R. EvID. 404.
5. See Alford, 223 Ark. at 333-34, 266 S.W.2d at 806.

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