There is no question that an alleged victim’s testimony, and their willingness to testify, can have a huge impact on a criminal trial. It is often the case that the prosecutor will not move forward with a case unless the victim agrees to testify. However, it is important to know that a case is not automatically dropped because an alleged victim cannot or will not testify.
Keep reading to learn when a victim’s testimony is required in a criminal trial. If you have questions or are facing criminal charges, we invite you to contact Law Office of Michael L. Fell at (949) 585-9055 for a free legal consultation.
There Are Times That a Victim’s Testimony is Required
If most of the evidence against the accused is based on the statement of the victim, and there is no additional evidence such as photos, video, or DNA evidence, then it is likely that the District Attorney will not move forward with a case if the victim cannot testify. However, the DA does have the option to charge the victim with contempt of court or falsely reporting a crime if they do not agree to testify.
A Confession Can Allow the D.A. to Pursue a Case without the Alleged Victim
If you confessed to a crime, then the DA is likely to be able to build a case based on that confession alone. This is true even if the victim does not agree to testify. If that is the case, then your criminal defense attorney is likely to work to determine that your confession should not be admissible, whether due to coercion, the police not reading your Miranda Warning, or another reason.
Understanding Marsy’s Law
Proposition 9, also known as the Victims’ Bill of Rights Act of 2008: Marsy’s Law, was passed by California voters in 2008. It extended the constitution of the state to make an exception for victims who were not willing to testify in specific situations. This law generally allows that a person who is the alleged victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or child molestation can legally refuse to testify in a pretrial hearing without being sent to jail. They can, however, face court fines if they refuse to testify in a criminal trial.
While the intent of passing this law might have been positive, the reality is that it sometimes prevents the accused from confronting their accuser in a court of law, which is required by the United States Constitution. It also means that if someone claims you hurt them and then changes their mind, you could potentially still face criminal charges. The good news is that you do have a legal expert on your side: contact Law Office of Michael L. Fell at (949) 585-9055 for a free legal consultation.