South Carolina v. CrossAnnotate this Case
James Cross was convicted of first-degree criminal sexual conduct (CSC) with a minor and committing a lewd act on a minor. The trial court sentenced Cross to an aggregate prison term of twenty-five years. Cross appealed, and the court of appeals affirmed. After review, the South Carolina Supreme Court concluded the trial court erred in denying Cross's motion to bifurcate his trial, reversed the appellate court, and remanded for a new trial. Cross's conviction for a specific offense under section S.C. Code section 23-3-430(C) was admissible to prove the prior-conviction element of first-degree CSC with a minor. Therefore, the State should have been allowed to introduce the conviction. However, the Court concluded the probative value of the conviction, at the time it was introduced, was substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice to Cross. The trial court's limiting instruction did not overcome the resulting prejudice. Therefore, it was error by the trial court to refuse Cross's request that the trial be bifurcated.