Washington Law Review


Batterers in Washington who use violence to control their intimate partners routinely avoid conviction and punishment due to the difficulties of prosecuting domestic violence cases. Prosecutors often face complex problems, such as recanting victims, lack of other witnesses, and juries inherently biased against battered women. Although some Washington prosecutors have found ways to introduce evidence of prior domestic violence in certain limited circumstances, Washington Rule of Evidence 404(b) generally precludes the use of evidence showing prior domestic violence. This Comment argues that this evidence rule prevents the admission of highly probative evidence of prior abuse against current or past victims that tends to show a defendant's propensity to batter. This Comment proposes that the Supreme Court of Washington recognize the difficulty in proving domestic violence cases and adopt a new evidence rule that would admit prior acts of domestic violence for all relevant purposes—including propensity.

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