Impeachment based upon prior false accusations – State v. Guenther

The New Jersey Rules of Evidence under N.J.R.E. 608 generally permit evidence in the form of opinion, reputation or prior criminal conviction to attack a witness” credibility. However, in a criminal case, evidence of specific instances of conduct, other than a prior criminal conviction, may not be used to establish the character trait of untruthfulness.

In State v. Guenther, released this morning, the New Jersey Supreme Court judicially amended N.J.R.E. 608 to permit the introduction of specific instances of conduct that involve prior false allegation of criminal misconduct. In its decision, the Justices set forth the criteria to be established in an N.J.R.E. 104 hearing when this type of impeachment evidence is sought to be used.

The Guenther case involves allegation of a sexual assault by a victim who had previously made false allegations of sexual assault against another person.

This 6 – 0 decision was written by Justice Albin.

Download a copy of State v. Guenther

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