Signature Crime Law and Legal Definition

Signature crime refers to a distinctive crime so similar in pattern, scheme, modus operandi to previous crimes that it identifies a particular defendant as the perpetrator. Signature crimes are also offenses involved the same victim and contained nearly identical alleged fact scenarios. However, the prior crime and the charged crime need not have to be so-called signature" crimes sharing unique and distinguishing characteristics in order to be considered closely related. In State v. Davis, 389 So. 2d 71 (La. 1980), it was held that a finding that the crimes were signature crimes was not by itself determinative of admissibility, because it was also necessary that the other offenses be relevant to a real issue such as identity. The test for finding signature crimes is not whether there was evidence that a defendant committed both crimes, but whether there was a unique method used in committing the crimes.