Household violence is a serious problem throughout the country. When household 'violence cases reach the court system they present unique evidentiary problems. Courts have begun to address these evidentiary problems by allowing evidence of prior abuse of other household victims into criminal trials for child and domestic abuse. The courts that have allowed such evidence, and the scholars who support such admissions, do so under auspices of "specific propensity evidence" to commit a certain type of crime, as opposed to "general propensity evidence" which is barred from admission by the federal and state rules of evidence. Since studies have linked animal abuse with other forms of domestic abuse, it is a logical extension to consider evidence of animal abuse as specific propensity evidence to commit other forms of domestic abuse. Therefore, evidence of animal abuse should be admissible in criminal trials for child and domestic abuse.
Angela Campbell, The Admissibility of Evidence of Animal Abuse in Criminal Trials for Child and Domestic Abuse, 43 B.C.L. Rev. 463 (2002), http://lawdigitalcommons.bc.edu/bclr/vol43/iss2/3