Decision Commonwealth v. Denton

Date: 06/01/2017
Organization: Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

Table of Contents

Commonwealth v. Denton

Commonwealth v. Denton
Supreme Judicial Court, June 1, 2017
(Evidentiary issues/Entrapment)

When a defendant raises the defense of entrapment, the Commonwealth is entitled to refute that claim by introducing propensity evidence to show that the defendant was predisposed to commit the charged crime because he or she had committed similar bad acts in the past. A judge must consider whether sufficiently similar prior bad acts are recent enough that they remain probative of the defendant's predisposition to commit the charged crime. 

In this case, despite the bad acts being extremely similar in circumstances to the crimes charged, the Court found that where the most recent act was at least nineteen years old, the probative value regarding predisposition no longer outweighed the potential prejudice to the defendant.