Third Party Culpability Evidence California

The California Supreme Court clarified the rules governing the admission of third-party culpability evidence. the high court explained that, "to be admissible, the third-party evidence need not show 'substantial proof of a probability' that the third person committed the act; it need only be capable of raising a reasonable doubt of defendant's guilt. At the same time, we do not require that any evidence, however remote, must be admitted to show a third party's possible culpability. . . . Evidence of mere motive or opportunity to commit the crime in another person, without more, will not suffice to raise a reasonable doubt about a defendant's guilt: there must be direct or circumstantial evidence linking the third person to the actual perpetration of the crime." The Hall court rejected the contention that a defendant's constitutional right to present a defense precludes any application of section Evidence Code section 352 to third party culpability evidence and explained that, "as a general matter, the ordinary rules of evidence do not impermissibly infringe on the accused's right to present a defense. Courts retain, moreover, a traditional and intrinsic power to exercise discretion to control the admission of evidence in the interests of orderly procedure and the avoidance of prejudice." (Hall, supra, at p. 834.) In People v. Hall (1986) 41 Cal.3d 826, the Supreme Court in Hall adopted a two-step test (Hall test) for determining the admissibility of proffered third party culpability evidence. First, the court must determine whether there is direct or circumstantial evidence that both links the third party to the actual perpetration of the crime and is capable of raising a reasonable doubt of defendant's guilt. (Hall, supra, 41 Cal.3d at p. 834) Evidence Code section 352 provides: "The court in its discretion may exclude evidence 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 of misleading the jury."