Missouri Evidence in Sexual Crimes Against Minors, Amendment 2 (2014)

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Amendment 2
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Type:Constitutional amendment
Constitution:Missouri Constitution
Referred by:Missouri State Legislature
Topic:Civil and criminal trials
Status:On the ballot
The Missouri Relevant Criminal Evidence Amendment, also known as Amendment 2, is on the November 4, 2014 ballot in Missouri as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment.

If passed, the measure, which is sponsored by Rep. John McCaherty (R-97), would allow relevant evidence of prior criminal acts to be admissible in court in prosecutions for sexual crimes involving a victim under 18 years old.[1]

Text of measure

The full text of the proposed amendment can be found here.

The following language will appear on the ballot on election day:[2]

Official Ballot Title: Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended so that it will be permissible to allow relevant evidence of prior criminal acts to be admissible in prosecutions for crimes of a sexual nature involving a victim under eighteen years of age? If more resources are needed to defend increased prosecutions additional costs to governmental entities could be at least $1.4 million annually, otherwise the fiscal impact is expected to be limited.

Fair Ballot Language: A “yes” vote will amend the Missouri Constitution to allow evidence of prior criminal acts, whether charged or uncharged, to be considered by courts in prosecutions of sexual crimes that involve a victim under eighteen years of age. The amendment limits the use of such prior acts to support the victim’s testimony or show that the person charged is more likely to commit the crime. Further, the judge may exclude such prior acts if the value of considering them is substantially outweighed by the possibility of unfair prejudice to the person charged with committing the crime. A “no” vote will not amend the Missouri Constitution regarding the use of evidence of prior criminal acts to prosecute sexual crimes.

If passed, this measure will have no impact on taxes. [3]

Constitutional changes

If the measure is approved, it will amend Article I, Section 18 of the Missouri Constitution by adding Section 18(c).[2]


Background

Missouri Constitution
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Preamble
Articles
IIIIIIIVVVIVIIVIIIIXXXIXIIXIII
Rep. McCaherty proposed this amendment after receiving a letter from a constituent whose daughter had been sexually abused. No criminal charges were brought against the alleged abuser. In 2007, the Missouri Supreme Court established a legal precedent that rendered propensity evidence inadmissible. Propensity evidence is that which suggests the accused has allegedly committed other criminal offenses and that he or she is likely to do so again in the future. In cases of child sexual abuse, propensity evidence would be used in court to show that the accused had abused the victim in the past, even though the accused is not currently on trial for these past instances of abuse. Similarly, evidence that the accused abuser had abused other children in the past would also be admissible.[4][5]

Support

This bill was sponsored by Rep. John McCaherty in the legislature, when it was known as House Joint Resolution 16.[1]

Path to the ballot

See also Amending the Missouri Constitution

Proposed amendments must be agreed to by a majority of the members of each chamber of the Missouri General Assembly. HJR 16 was passed by the House on March 7, 2013, and it was passed in the Senate on May 16, 2013.[1][6]

Missouri Evidence in Sexual Crimes against Minors, HJR 16 House Vote
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 130 80.74%
No2314.28%
Missouri Evidence in Sexual Crimes against Minors, HJR 16 Senate Vote
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 30 88.23%
No25.88%

See also

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