SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA – In 2004, the Supreme Court of the United States held that the use at trial of out of court statements made to police by an unavailable witness violated a criminal defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to confront witnesses against him. In Crawford v. Washington, the Supreme Court of the United States barred the tape-recorded, eyewitness account made to police by Crawford’s wife about her account of the circumstances that led to her husband stabbing a man he believed had tried to rape her.
Although the Crawford holding was decided under the context of a defendant’s rights under criminal law and criminal procedure, the decision has significantly affected the effectiveness of prosecuting elder abuse cases. The statements barred by Crawford are particularly important in an elder abuse case because victims often recant their statements, and, under certain circumstances, their immediate responses are considered to be more reliable than those they make later. Further, there is the additional problem of victims not being able to come to court because they are ill, debilitated, or have relocated.
On January 1, 2009, Assembly Bill 1158 went into effect allowing for the use of two-way video conferencing to examine witnesses who are unable to come to court. The law is intended to balance the interests of elder abuse victims who are unable to testify in court with the accused’s right under Crawford to confront such witnesses.
Berman & Riedel, LLP is first and foremost an advocate for the elderly, working tirelessly to promote awareness and recognition of the serious elder abuse and neglect problem that plagues the State of California. Our attorneys are experienced in this complex area of law, and have the knowledge necessary to provide you with the absolute best possible representation. If you or a loved one has been the victim of elder abuse or neglect, please contact an attorney at Berman & Riedel, LLP for more information on how to best pursue your legal rights.