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Commonwealth v. Jones

Pennsylvania Supreme Court

October 30, 2020

In Commonwealth v. Jones, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that opinion testimony from a detective, who was not qualified as an expert, concerning the behavior of a child victim in response to sexual abuse, informed by that detective’s training and experience, constituted expert testimony under PA Rules of Evidence 701 and 702. The Court then held that 42 Pa.C.S.A  § 5920 effectively overruled Commonwealth v. Dunkle, 602 A.2d 830 (Pa. 1992), to the extent the case could be read as categorically prohibiting expert testimony concerning victim behavior in response to sexual abuse. And although some testimony on this topic might be prohibited because it impermissibly invades the jury’s province of determining credibility, whether or not this prohibition has been violated must instead be assessed on a case by case basis.

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