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Have you heard about the George Zimmerman domestic violence allegations? What about the claims that he once attacked a cop?
They both appear to be true. Media has unearthed Zimmerman's criminal record, finding evidence that, in 2005, he was charged with resisting arrest with violence and battery of a law enforcement officer. That same year, his ex-fiance filed for a domestic violence restraining order, which was granted.
Some want to know whether this information will be admissible if Zimmerman is ever charged with the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. Chances are it won't be.
Under both the Federal Rules of Evidence and the Florida Evidence Code, prosecutors can present evidence of past crimes and bad acts only if the information proves a material fact, such as motive, intent, knowledge or opportunity. They cannot introduce such evidence for the sole purpose of showing that the defendant had a propensity to commit the charged offenses, or that he acted in accordance with that propensity on a particular occasion.
The only thing George Zimmerman's domestic violence restraining order and cop attack appear to prove are that he may have a tendency to react violently. This alone should make the evidence inadmissible.
This evidence is also likely inadmissible because the facts surrounding both incidents are a bit murky. Prosecutors waived the battery charges after Zimmerman entered an alcohol education program, according to MSNBC. This implies that he was never convicted. Mere arrests and charges are generally considered inadmissible under both evidence codes.
As for the George Zimmerman domestic violence accusations, they appear to be two-sided. Once his ex-fiance filed for a restraining order, he did the same, reports MSNBC. The court granted both. The he-said, she-said nature of the orders would likely cause the judge to bar this evidence because of the unnecessary prejudice it imparts.