California Evidence Code Section 352 - Interpretation

Evidence Code section 352 provides the court may exclude evidence, in its discretion, if "its probative value is substantially outweighed by the probability that its admission will (a) necessitate undue consumption of time or (b) create substantial danger of undue prejudice, of confusing the issues or misleading the jury." 1. In People v. Beagle, People v. Beagle (1972) 6 Cal.3d 441, the California Supreme Court set forth the following considerations to guide the trial court's exercise of discretion under section 352 in determining whether to admit evidence of prior felony convictions: (1) whether the prior conviction "rests on dishonest conduct," (2) the nearness or remoteness of the prior conviction; (3) the similarity to the charged crime. People v. Beagle, supra, 6 Cal.3d at pp. 391-392. 2. In People v. Falsetta (1999) 21 Cal.4th 903, the Court Supreme Court set forth various factors for a trial court to consider in determining whether evidence of a prior offense may be admitted under an Evidence Code section 352 analysis: (1) its nature, relevance, and remoteness; (2) the certainty of its commission; (3) the likelihood of confusing, misleading, or distracting the jury; (4) the similarity between the prior offense and the charged offense; (5) the likely prejudicial impact; (6) the burden on the defendant in rebutting the prior offense; (7) the availability of less prejudicial alternatives. (Falsetta, supra, at p. 917; see also People v. Ewoldt (1994) 7 Cal.4th 380, 404-406 Evid. Code, 1101, subd. (b); People v. Harris (1998) 60 Cal.App.4th at pp. 737-741 under Evid. Code, 1108, the probative value of the evidence must also be balanced against the inflammatory nature of the prior conduct, possible confusion of issues, remoteness of the prior offense, and time needed to introduce and refute the prior offense.)