Consciousness of Guilt


Franklin County Criminal Law Casebook

Reproduced with permission from:
Timothy E. Pierce and the Franklin County Public Defender Office

State v. Glander (2000), 139 Ohio App. 3d 490 -- Defendant was found guilty of criminal damaging based on throwing a rock at the windshield of a car driven by one of several youths who had been harassing residents along a rural road. Defendant had asked a deputy if the complaint was made by the person who in fact was the driver of the car. This was omitted from material provided in discovery, but the deputy was allowed to testify and the prosecutor argued this indicated consciousness of guilt. Appellant denied making the statement. Reversed. Omission was inexplicable and disclosure would have benefited the defense in preparing for trial.
Doyle v. Ohio (1976), 426 U.S. 610 -- Use of post-arrest silence for impeachment purposes violates the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Also see State v. Van Meter (1998), 130 Ohio App. 3d 592.
State v. Williams (1997), 79 Ohio St. 3d 1, 10-11 - Death penalty indictee entered juvenile detention facility prepared to kill three accomplices. Evidence of this entry was admissible to show consciousness of guilt.
State v. Taylor (1997), 78 Ohio St. 3d 15, 27 -- Instruction that "flight, in and of itself, does not raise a presumption of guilt, but unless satisfactorily explained, it tends to show consciousness of guilt or a guilty connection with the crime" did not create an improper mandatory presumption, nor did it amount to an improper comment on the defendant's failure to testify.
State v. Soke (1995), 105 Ohio App. 3d 226, 250 -- "(E)vidence of threats or intimidation of witnesses reflects a consciousness of guilt and is admissible as admission by conduct." Also see State v. Hirsch (1998), 129 Ohio App. 3d 294, 306-307.
State v. Robinson (September 22, 1994), Franklin Co. App. No. 94APA02-222, unreported (1994 Opinions 4455) -- Defendant's use of belt to compel silence said to be probative of consciousness of guilt. Citing United States v. Mendez-Ortiz (6th Cir. 1990), 810 F.2d 76 for the proposition that evidence of the defendant's attempts to bribe and threaten a witness are admissible for the same purpose.
Fletcher v. Weir (1982), 455 U.S. 603 -- Doyle does not apply to post-arrest silence when no Miranda warnings have been given, since the defendant has not received the assurance that silence will not be used against him, which is implicit in the Miranda warnings. Also see State v. Sabbah (1982), 13 Ohio App. 3d 124 -- Evid. R. 403(A) to be applied in weighing admissibility of pre arrest silence.

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Published by Timothy E. Pierce
Copyright © Franklin County Public Defender and Timothy E. Pierce, 2015
Contents may not be duplicated without express permission.