When undergoing litigation, criminal defendants are given the power to invoke and use their constitutional right to cross-examine accusers. This is a right that is specifically stated in the Confrontation Clause. This clause is quite logical since it is understood that when an individual is put on trial, his future and freedom are at risk of being lost. Of course, the contents of the Confrontation Clause aren’t only valid for witness testimonies. The clause covers any type of material that can be used to incarcerate an individual who is being charged. Such materials must pass the criteria of having relevance, reliability, and material existence.
True Purpose of the Confrontation Clause
In the process of court trial, it is a known fact that out-of-court-statements cannot be recognized as valid proofs of guilt of the accused. This is because the Constitution’s Confrontation Clause is in effect. Such statements are declared as mere idle talk and have no bearing on the case in question. A criminal defendant’s out-of-court-statement is therefore not a basis for final decisions made by a judge or a jury.
Exceptions Under the Confrontation Clause
Currently, there is a known exception under the Confrontation Clause as approved by the US Supreme Court. In cases wherein there are children involved, forcible sourcing of testimonials cannot be required. However, if the jury needs their testimony in order to make an accurate decision, the children could give it through their teachers. This is of course if they have disclosed to their teachers about any abuses that they have been experiencing.
A Current SC Case Issue
This case is about a 3-year old preschooler who was being physically abused by his mom’s boyfriend. The resulting injuries were what made teachers curious about what was really happening to the child at home. The child confided in his teachers about everything. The information was then passed on to the authorities and was made as the basis for child abuse charges against the mother’s boyfriend. Under normal circumstances, the statement of the teachers would not be accepted as valid by the court until a cross-examination of the child was carried out. However, the US Supreme Court decided that it was just and fair to consider the testimony of the child, which was shared to his teachers as evidence. The case held up and a conviction decision was issued.
Justifications to the Exemption
It is easy to justify this exemption as it is the federal government who will be carrying out the prosecution. The child or the teacher remain as simple sources of information that could be used for coming up with case decisions. The exemption also seeks to protect children from being exposed to more traumatic and stressful situations.
Issues on the Use of a Child’s Testimony in Trials
A lot of US states consider a child’s statements to be unreliable as evidence in a criminal proceeding. At their age, they are considered to have limited capability to understand that their actions could have serious and lasting impacts on the lives of others. As they age up, their statements are given more weight as evidences since it is understood that at these stages in their lives, they are already gaining more understanding about the consequences of their words and actions.
Policy of Protecting Children and the Constitutional Confrontation Clause
The exemption mentioned above is very important for many reasons. First of all, it is the duty of the federal government to ensure the safety and welfare of all children within its territories. Secondly, cases of child-abuse are very sensitive and could traumatize a child for life. Last of all, such types of abuses occur in an environment wherein the only witnesses are the victim and the abuser. To deprive the child of the right to have his or her testimony accepted as valid is almost equivalent to allowing the abuse to continue. Officers of the judicial system are divided as to what should be given more weight: the child’s welfare or the constitutional right of the accused. However, in the end, it is clear that the government will favor children more. This is the reason why the boyfriend mentioned above is now starting to serve his 28-year jail term.
Broward County’s Leading Criminal Defense Attorney
The services of a qualified legal professional should be sought out when you, your family members, or anyone you are close to has been arrested. A seasoned criminal defense lawyer in Fort Lauderdale like Kenneth Padowitz could make a big difference when it comes to the outcome of your case. Get in touch with him today for a free, confidential, and no-obligations consultation! Kenneth Padowitz, P.A. aggressively handles all State and Federal criminal charges. Contact our law firm to discuss your situation. Our Broward criminal lawyer, Kenneth Padowitz, will strategically develop a defense designed personally for you and your situation. Kenneth Padowitz, P.A. represents clients throughout Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, and Broward.