2.06 Evidence of Defendant's Prior Similar Acts

You have heard [will hear] evidence that [defendant] previously committed acts similar to those charged in this case. You may not use this evidence to infer that, because of [his/her] character, [defendant] carried out the acts charged in this case. You may consider this evidence only for the limited purpose of deciding:

(1) Whether [defendant] had the state of mind or intent necessary to commit the crime charged in the indictment;


(2) Whether [defendant] had a motive or the opportunity to commit the acts charged in the indictment;


(3) Whether [defendant] acted according to a plan or in preparation for commission of a crime;


(4) Whether [defendant] committed the acts [he/she] is on trial for by accident or mistake.

Remember, this is the only purpose for which you may consider evidence of [defendant]’s prior similar acts. Even if you find that [defendant] may have committed similar acts in the past, this is not to be considered as evidence of character to support an inference that [defendant] committed the acts charged in this case.


(1) See Fed. R. Evid. 105; Huddleston v. United States, 485 U.S. 681, 691-92 (1988) (“[T]he trial court shall, upon request, instruct the jury that the similar acts evidence is to be considered only for the proper purpose for which it was admitted.”). “Perhaps the safe course for a district court, whenever the matter is in doubt, is (where asked) to give a closing general instruction that bad character is not a permissible inference.” United States v. Randazzo, 80 F.3d 623, 630 (1st Cir. 1996). Randazzo contains a discussion of the “distinction between ‘direct evidence’ and ‘other crimes’ or ‘Rule 404(b)’ evidence.” Id.; see also United States v. Santagata, 924 F.2d 391, 393-95 (1st Cir. 1991).

(2) This instruction is based upon Fifth Circuit Instruction 1.30 and Eighth Circuit Instruction 2.08.

(3) Courts should encourage counsel to specify and limit the purpose or purposes for which prior act evidence is admitted. One or more of the above instructions should be given only for the corresponding specific purpose for which the evidence was admitted. Instructions for purposes other than that for which the specific evidence was admitted should not be given.