Washington Law Review


Blythe Chandler


American courts traditionally exclude evidence that a defendant has committed crimes other than the crime with which the defendant is charged. This rule, with exceptions, is codified as Federal Rule of Evidence 404(b) and Washington Evidence Rule 404(b). However, courts and legislatures have increasingly adopted the view that evidence of other sex offenses should be admissible in sex-offense prosecutions. The Washington State Legislature recently adopted a statute, RCW 10.58.090, which governs the admissibility of evidence of other sex offenses. This Comment argues that Washington courts should use precedent applying Rule 404(b) as a guide in applying robust Rule 403 balancing under the new statute. This interpretation of the statute is consistent with its legislative history, preserves the traditional gate-keeping role of trial courts in evidence-admissibility determinations, and avoids a potential separation-of-powers question about which branch of government has ultimate authority over evidentiary rules in Washington.

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