Similar fact evidence is offered in a lot of sex cases in Florida and, of course, is most times, horribly damning to our clients.
In Florida we have statutory, Fla. Stat. 90.404(2), and case law, Williams v. State, (Fla. 1959), that allows the state to introduce evidence of prior similar sexual wrongdoing (other crimes, wrongs or acts) in a new case involving sexual offenses. There need be no conviction. In fact, even if former charges are dismissed, the underlying facts may be admissible. Pomeranz v. State, 703 So. 2d 465, 469 (Fla. 1997).
The state must give the defense “notice” of the use of such crimes at least 10 days before trial. (Much like federal rule 404(b) evidence). If the evidence is admitted the Court, if requested, must instruct the jury on the limited purpose for which the evidence was received immediately prior to when the evidence is admitted at trial and provide a limiting instruction in it’s final instructions to the jury.