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Name: People v. Tidwell
Case #: C054142
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 06/17/2008

The admissibility of an alleged prior false complaint of rape to impeach the credibility of the complaining witness as to the issue of consent in a prosecution for rape is not governed by Penal Code section 782. Penal Code section 782 provides a procedure by which a defendant may attempt to attack the credibility of the complaining witness by introducing evidence of the witness’s sexual conduct. If the defendant provides a sufficient offer of proof, the court must allow defendant to question the complaining witness outside the presence of the jury to determine if the witness will recant and thereby be subject to impeachment. Prior to trial on rape and other charges, defendant asserted a consent defense and filed a motion to admit evidence pursuant to Penal Code section 782. The intended evidence dealt with two prior rape complaints by the complaining witness that defendant claimed were false. The trial court excluded the evidence pursuant to Evidence Code section 352, noting the evidence that the complaints were false was weak. Rejecting appellant’s claim that he provided a sufficient offer of proof to entitle him to question the witness pursuant to section 782, the appellate court ruled that section 782 was inapplicable because it was the allegedly false complaints that were sought as impeachment rather than prior sexual conduct. Additionally, the court found that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by excluding the evidence under Evidence Code section 352 because the evidence showing the prior complaints were false was weak and admitting the evidence would result in an undue consumption of time.