DOES THE STATE HAVE TO PROVE ALL THE INFORMATION IN THE BILL OF PARTICULARS?
Sometimes the black letter law passed by the legislature is unclear. The legislature can’t anticipate every possible fact scenario when they pass a law, so it lay to the courts to interpret the law and give guidance to what it means. This interpretation is called case law. When the court decides a certain meeting to the law it essentially answers a legal question. Lawyers and other courts then can rely on that ruling when they have a similar issue in their case. The following case answers the question above.
State v. Frames, 515 P.2d 751 (Kan. 1973).
This case addresses the following issue:
Does the State have to prove all the information in the Bill of Particulars?
This case explored the question of whether the State has to prove all the information in the bill of particulars. In answering this question, the court found that it was not necessary for the prosecution to prove each and every factual statement contained in the bill of particulars; so long as the State proved all the necessary elements of the particular crime charged, the evidence was sufficient to convict regardless of whether every statement in the bill of particulars was proven. Id. at 755.
This case was the aftermath of a tragic murder which occurred in June 1970. Id. at 753. The defendant and his accomplice were charged with murder. Id. The defendant pled guilty to first-degree murder and was sentenced to life imprisonment. However, after two mistrials, the defendant’s accomplice was tried for a third time and the defendant testified that the accomplice was an active, if not motivating force, in the murder. Id. As a result, the accomplice was convicted of murder and later filed a motion for a new trial on the grounds of newly discovered evidence. Id. At the hearing for the accomplice’s motion, the defendant testified that he alone had conceived and committed the murder and that the accomplice had not assisted in its commission. Id. at 753-54. A few days after the hearing of the accomplice’s motion for a new trial, the defendant was charged and eventually convicted of lying under oath. Id. at 754.
After the defendant was charged with lying under oath he filed a motion for a bill of particulars and the district court allowed the motion. Id. The bill of particulars that the State filed referred specifically to pages and lines of the transcript of the defendant’s testimony at the hearing. Id. Moreover, the defendant contended that some of the statements set forth in the bill of particulars should have been left out from the consideration of the jury because the evidence produced by the State was not adequate enough to establish that he lied under oath. Id. Further, the defendant argued that each statement contained in the bill of particulars was a separate charge which the State must establish by specific evidence and that the only statements that should be admitted to the jury were those that were established by specific evidence. Id. at 755.
In order to determine the validity of the defendant’s position, the court examined the nature and effect of a bill of particulars in a criminal action. Id. The court stated that the purpose of a bill of particulars was twofold: (1) To inform the defendant as to the nature of the charge and the evidence against him to enable him to prepare his defense, and (2) to enable the defendant to avoid further prosecution for the same offense. Id. In the defendant’s case, the defendant had not cited any authority for his position that each statement contained in the bill of particulars became a separate allegation of a criminal offense. Id. On the contrary, the court stated that the bill of particulars was nothing more than a statement of facts which collectively described the offense set forth generally in the complaint. Id.
According to the court, it was not necessary for the prosecution to prove each and every factual statement contained in the bill of particulars. Id. So long as the State proved all of the necessary elements of the particular crime charged, then the evidence was sufficient to convict regardless of whether every statement in bill of particulars was proven. Id. In sum, the court rejected the defendant’s argument that the only statements in the bill of particulars that should be admitted were those that were established by specific evidence. Id. at 756.