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§ 904.04 – Greater Latitude Rule in Sexual Assaults, Generally

State v. Randy Mcgowan, 2006 WI App 80
For Mcgowan: Dianne M. Erickson


¶14      … The supreme court has provided significant guidance concerning the use of other acts evidence in child sexual assault cases. In State v. Davidson, 2000 WI 91, 236 Wis. 2d 537, 613 N.W.2d 606, the court discussed the three-step framework, which was originally set forth in State v. Sullivan, 216 Wis. 2d 768, 780, 576 N.W.2d 30 (1998), that courts must follow when deciding whether to admit other acts evidence in all Wisconsin cases:

1.  Is the other acts evidence offered for an acceptable purpose under Wis. Stat. § (Rule) 904.04(2)?
2.  Is the other acts evidence relevant under Wis. Stat. § (Rule) 904.01?
3.  Is the probative value of the evidence substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice, confusion, or delay under Wis. Stat. § (Rule) 904.03?

Davidson, 236 Wis. 2d 537, ¶35. Davidson also recognized that “alongside this general framework, there also exists in Wisconsin law the longstanding principle that in sexual assault cases, particularly cases that involve sexual assault of a child, courts permit a ‘greater latitude of proof as to other like occurrences.’” Id., ¶36 (citations omitted). Davidson held that “in sexual assault cases, especially those involving assaults against children, the greater latitude rule applies to the entire analysis of whether evidence of a defendant’s other crimes was properly admitted at trial.” Id., ¶51.


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