The Griffin Rule

In People v. Griffin (1967) 66 Cal.2d 459, defendant was convicted of murdering a female victim. (Griffin, supra, 66 Cal.2d at p. 461.) The trial court admitted evidence that, before defendant was arrested for murder, he went to Mexico, where he attacked another woman. (Id. at p. 463.) The Supreme Court held that the evidence of the second attack was admissible "because the similarities between the crimes made evidence of the later crime relevant to prove that the murder victim's injuries were not accidental but inflicted by defendant and to prove that he intended to rape her." (Id. at pp. 464-465.) The court concluded, however, that it was prejudicial error to exclude evidence that defendant was acquitted of a rape charge by a Mexican court in connection with the second attack, because this evidence would assist the jury in assessing the weight to give the evidence of the rape accusation. (Id. at pp. 465-466.) The so-called "Griffin rule" has been summarized as follows: "If a trial court permits the prosecution to present evidence that the defendant committed one or more similar offenses for which he or she is not charged in the current prosecution, the trial court must also allow the defense to present evidence of the defendant's acquittal, if any, of such crimes, and failure to allow such acquittal evidence constitutes error." (People v. Mullens (2004) 119 Cal.App.4th 648, 664-665 extending Griffin rule to evidence of sexual offenses admissible under Evid. Code, 1108 to show propensity; see also People v. Jenkins (1970) 3 Cal.App.3d 529, 533-535 error, though not prejudicial, to admit evidence that codefendant was arrested for crime similar to charged offense to show intent, where evidence that similar charge had not been prosecuted was excluded.)