This issue comes up most often in Okaloosa County with domestic violence cases. Usually, what happens is the alleged victim will report the crime, make a statement to the police implicating the suspect, and then later decide that they don’t want to prosecute.
You have several rights granted to you when you are facing a criminal charge. One is a constitutional right found in the sixth amendment and it is the right to confront your accusers and witnesses who have made statements against you in a criminal investigation. In 2004, Crawford v. Washington changed the way the confrontation clause of the sixth amendment was interpreted and made a significant adjustment for defense attorneys who were trying to exclude evidence that violated their client’s Sixth Amendment right. This is what we call the Crawford Test.
Now, in just about every domestic violence, battery, sexual battery, robbery, or other case that involves a victim in Okaloosa County, the prosecutor cannot introduce testimonial evidence against you unless they have their witness in the courtroom to testify and back up their prior statements. This makes it much harder for them to prove their case against you because in many instances witnesses and victims become unavailable or cannot be located when it is time to go to court.
What Is the Crawford Test and How Is it Applied in Okaloosa County Cases?
The Crawford Test instructs that admission of hearsay statements violates a person’s Sixth Amendment rights if (1) the statement was testimonial and (2) the declarant is unavailable and the defendant had no prior opportunity to cross-examine the declarant. There are ways that the State will try to get these statements in and taint the jury with them, which is one reason it is imperative to have a criminal defense attorney on your side that knows how to combat their tactics and protect your rights.
Will This Rule Really Make a Difference in My Case?
This is a vital part of my defense strategy and I have used the Crawford Test in numerous cases to get the best possible results for my clients.
Let me give you an example of why this really works. When you were younger, did you ever come home and get in trouble because your brother or sister had blamed something on you? You knew you didn’t do anything wrong and when you called their bluff, face-to-face, the truth came out!
In principle, that is what I do in court to fight for you and save you from a criminal conviction. I have seen it happen many times; witnesses change their stories when I cross-examine them at trial and I use these inconsistencies to win your case. Sometimes, witnesses will end up exonerating you when put under the pressure of being questioned by a defense attorney. And if the State does not call their witnesses to testify, admitting their statements would be a violation of your Sixth Amendment rights.
What Do I Need to Do Next?
Having an attorney who practices here locally in Okaloosa County can make all the difference in your case. I know how and when to use the Crawford Test to secure better results for my clients, and when we meet, we’ll talk about whether I think it can help you.
If you have been arrested in Okaloosa County and want to fight back, call Flaherty & Merrifield today at (850) 243-6097 to schedule a free consultation.