Prosecution must make showing before evidence of attempted suicide can be used as evidence of guilt

On September 26, 2018, in State v. Cartwright, the South Carolina Suprme Court held evidence of a suicide attempt can be admitted as evidence of guilty, “provided that the State establishes a clear and unmistakable nexus linking the suicide attempt to a guilty conscience derivative of the offense for which the defendant is on trial.” The Court reasoned, “Evidence of attempted suicide is not easily analogized to evidence of guilt.”

Because of Cartwright, trial counsel should object if the prosecution seeks to admit evidence of a suicide attempt. Defense counsel should require the trial judge to rule on the prosecution’s showing outside the presses of jurors.

Click on this link to read the opinion in State v. Cartwright.