METHODS OF PROVING CHARACTER
(a) Reputation or Opinion. In all cases in which evidence of character or a trait of character of a person is admissible, proof may be made by testimony as to reputation or by testimony in the form of an opinion. On cross-examination, inquiry is allowable into relevant specific instances of conduct.
(b) Specific Instances of Conduct. In cases in which character or a trait of character of a person is an essential element of a charge, claim, or defense, proof may also be made of specific instances of that person's conduct.
Rule 405(a) is identical to the federal rule and changes the law in South Carolina in one respect. Formerly, only testimony as to a person's general reputation was allowed. State v. Groome, 274 S.C. 189, 262 S.E.2d 31 (1980); In re Greenfield's Estate, 245 S.C. 595, 141 S.E.2d 916 (1965). Rule 405(a) allows evidence of character to be in the form of opinion or reputation evidence. The portion of Rule 405(a) regarding cross-examination as to specific acts is consistent with the law in South Carolina. State v. Major, 301 S.C. 181, 391 S.E.2d 235 (1990) (when the accused offers evidence of his good character regarding specific character traits relevant to the crime charged, the state may cross-examine as to particular bad acts or conduct relating to the traits focused on by the accused).
Rule 405(b) is identical to the federal rule and is consistent with South Carolina law. State v. Amburgey, 206 S.C. 426, 34 S.E.2d 779 (1945).