Alford v. State – Case Brief Summary (Arkansas)

In Alford v. State, 223 Ark. 330, 266 S.W.2d 804 (1954), an opinion that has been cited more than fifty times for its discussion of prior bad acts evidence, Justice George Rose Smith stated:

"Perhaps the most frequent resort to evidence of recent similar offenses occurs in the cases involving guilty knowledge. In such cases good faith would be a defense to the charge; the vital issue is whether the defendant knew his conduct to be wrongful. For example, it is not a crime to pass a forged check in the belief that it is genuine, but the same conduct is criminal when done with knowledge that the instrument is bogus. Since it is highly improbable that an innocent man would repeatedly come into possession of forged checks, proof of recent similar offenses bears directly on the issue of guilty knowledge. In this category fall cases involving forgery, counterfeiting, false pretenses, knowledge that an establishment is a gambling house, and many other situations."