Should Out-of-Court Statements Be Admissible in Criminal Domestic Violence Cases?

Should 911 call recordings and police accounts of victim statements at domestic violence crime scenes be admissible without in-court testimony from the victim? That is the question argued before the US Supreme Court last week.

The criminal defense bar argues, compellingly, that the defendant is unfairly prejudiced because he (or she) is denied their constitutional right to confront (that is, cross-examine) their accuser (the “witness”).

Domestic violence advocates counter, practically, that many victims of criminal domestic violence are too frightened (for themselves and their children) to testify against their abuser in court. After all, violence and intimidation are the calling cards of domestic abusers.

If criminal domestic violence convictions are held to require live testimony, domestic abusers will surely “turn up the heat” to discourage such in-court testimony – and more perpetrators of criminal domestic violence will go free – unless victims are forced to testify against their will.

Read more in the Los Angeles Times via Peninsula Peace and Justice Center and Dallas Morning News.