Are Evidence of a ''Violent Character'' Relevant In Self-Defence Cases ?
In People v. Lynch, 104 Ill. 2d 194, 470 N.E.2d 1018, 83 Ill. Dec. 598 (1984), the court held when self-defense is properly raised, evidence of the victim's aggressive and violent character may be offered for two reasons:
(1) to show that the defendant's knowledge of the victim's violent tendencies affected defendant's perceptions of and reactions to the victim's behavior;
(2) to support the defendant's version of the facts where there are conflicting accounts of what happened. Lynch, 104 Ill. 2d at 199-200.
Under the first approach, evidence is relevant only if the defendant knew of the victim's violent acts.
Under the second approach, the defendant's knowledge is irrelevant.