Rule 105 – Limiting Evidence That Is Not Admissible Against Other Parties or for Other Purposes

If the court admits evidence that is admissible against a party or for a purpose — but not against another party or for another purpose — the court, on timely request, must restrict the evidence to its proper scope and instruct the jury accordingly.

Summary and Explanation

Federal Rule of Evidence 105 is a rule that governs the limited admissibility of evidence. It deals with situations where evidence may be admissible for one purpose but not for another, and it provides guidance on how the court should handle such situations.

Rule 105 states that when evidence is admitted for one purpose or party, but is inadmissible for another purpose or against another party, the court, upon request, must restrict the evidence to its proper scope. In other words, if evidence has relevance for one specific issue but could be prejudicial or inadmissible for other issues or parties in the case, the court can instruct the jury to consider the evidence only for its proper purpose.

For example, let’s say in a criminal trial, the defendant has a prior conviction for a similar crime. The prosecution may want to introduce this prior conviction as evidence of the defendant’s propensity to commit the crime in question. However, this is generally not allowed under the rules of evidence because it would be unfairly prejudicial. Rule 105 allows the court to admit the prior conviction for a different purpose, such as to impeach the defendant’s credibility if they testify, but the jury is instructed to consider it only for that limited purpose and not as evidence of the defendant’s guilt in the current case.

In summary, Rule 105 helps ensure that evidence is used only for its proper and admissible purpose, preventing the jury from being unduly influenced or prejudiced by information that may be relevant for one issue but not for others in the case. It helps maintain fairness and clarity in the presentation of evidence during trials.


(Pub.L. 93-595, § 1, Jan. 2, 1975, 88 Stat. 1930; Apr. 26, 2011, eff. Dec. 1, 2011.)

Notes of Advisory Committee on Proposed Rules

A close relationship exists between this rule and Rule 403 which requires exclusion when “probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice, confusion of the issues, or misleading the jury.” The present rule recognizes the practice of admitting evidence for a limited purpose and instructing the jury accordingly. The availability and effectiveness of this practice must be taken into consideration in reaching a decision whether to exclude for unfair prejudice under Rule 403. In Bruton v. United States, 389 U.S. 818, 88 S.Ct. 126, 19 L.Ed.2d 70 (1968), the Court ruled that a limiting instruction did not effectively protect the accused against the prejudicial effect of admitting in evidence the confession of a codefendant which implicated him. The decision does not, however, bar the use of limited admissibility with an instruction where the risk of prejudice is less serious.

Similar provisions are found in Uniform Rule 6; California Evidence Code §355; Kansas Code of Civil Procedure §60–406; New Jersey Evidence Rule 6. The wording of the present rule differs, however, in repelling any implication that limiting or curative instructions are sufficient in all situations.

Notes of Committee on the Judiciary, House Report No. 93–650

Rule 106 as submitted by the Supreme Court (now Rule 105 in the bill) dealt with the subject of evidence which is admissible as to one party or for one purpose but is not admissible against another party or for another purpose. The Committee adopted this Rule without change on the understanding that it does not affect the authority of a court to order a severance in a multi-defendant case.

Committee Notes on Rules—2011 Amendment

The language of Rule 105 has been amended as part of the restyling of the Evidence Rules to make them more easily understood and to make style and terminology consistent throughout the rules. These changes are intended to be stylistic only. There is no intent to change any result in any ruling on evidence admissibility.

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