Generally speaking, no, unless the state attempts to introduce character evidence or otherwise puts Arbery’s history at issue in attempting to attack the anticipated self-defense claim.
Today’s show looks at another Ahmaud Arbery video, released in the last 24 hours or so, of Arbery apparently getting arrested in a parking lot for purportedly attempting to shoplift a 65″ TV. You got that right, sixty-five inches. Go big or go home, I guess.
The video itself isn’t all that interesting from a use-of-force perspective, and the same can largely be said about the prior day’s video of Arbery having a confrontational encounter with a pair of law enforcement officers in a park. (Interestingly, he’s wearing the same down jacket with fur-lined hood in both videos.)
The videos have, however, induced several people to ask whether such videos can be at all relevant to the trial(s) of Greg and Travis McMichael, both charged with felony murder predicted on aggravated assault (or, in the case of Greg, aiding and abetting aggravated assault) in this case. After all, it’s not Ahmaud Arbery who will be on trial in those cases, it will be the McMichaels. As a general policy of criminal procedure, character evidence is usually inadmissible in a criminal trial, and these videos would certainly seem to fall into that character evidence bucket with respect to the McMichaels trial (e.g., they don’t touch directly on their confrontation with Arbery).
There are, however, some exceptions to the general policy of excluding character evidence, and at least three of these exceptions may prove a viable path for the defense to get evidence of Arbery’s character.
One of those exceptions is a function of whether the state introduces character evidence of its own.
A second has to do with character evidence that was known to the McMichaels at the time of their encounter with Arbery.
A third has to do with whether the prosecution attacks the McMichael’s (anticipated) claim of self-defense on the element of Innocence.
We touch on all that in considerable plain-English detail, share the shoplifting video itself with you, and a whole lot more in this roughly one hour plain-English exposition on the law, so enjoy the show!
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Know the law so you’re hard to convict!
Attorney Andrew F. Branca
Law of Self Defense LLC
Law of Self Defense CONSULT Program
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