Can a Child Be a Witness in a Criminal Case?

Criminal Defense Law Firm 317-636-7514

Criminal Defense Law Firm 317-636-7514

Each state has their own laws regarding child witnesses, including age requirements. From these varying laws, the common denominator is that every witness, regardless of age, must be competent and able to testify at trial. This same prerequisite applies to children.

But when you imagine a person testifying in court as a witness, it is not common to envision a child on the stand. However, it is a situation that does happen every now and then, but only under specific circumstances.

Continue reading to learn some basics about children witnesses.

Competent Witnesses

So what constitutes a competent child witness? A child must be deemed to have sufficient intelligence, be able to remember and describe events, answer questions clearly, and know the difference between truth and lies. These qualities can be found in very young children, as well as pubescent and young adults. A judge ultimately determines a child’s competency to testify in trial. It is common in these cases for judges to order a psychological evaluation to assess the child’s credibility.

General Rules and Exceptions

Witnesses are generally excluded from the majority of a court hearing. Usually, they must wait outside the courtroom until they are asked to take the stand. This avoids witnesses from changing their testimony after hearing other witnesses talk about the case. However, this rule may not be enforced in the case of a child taking the stand to testify. Often times, judges will permit a parent, guardian, or therapist to chaperone the child through the duration of the hearing.

Another exception that is often made for child witnesses is the right to give their testimony via a closed-circuit television or monitor. Many states have laws that protect child witnesses, especially those who are victims of abuse or assault. Rather than testifying in the same room as an abuser or offender, a child is allowed to provide their testimony from a safe location. Videotaped depositions are also used.

Talk to a Trusted Attorney

It is important to discuss your legal questions with your trusted Indianapolis criminal defense attorney for the best guidance and support. If you do not already have a licensed criminal defense lawyer working on your case, you need one right away.

David E. Lewis Attorney at Law 317-636-7514

David E. Lewis Attorney at Law 317-636-7514

Call Attorney David E. Lewis at 317-636-7514 to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your criminal charges with a seasoned Indianapolis criminal defense attorney you can trust. We work around the clock to ensure your rights are protected and your freedoms are preserved. We offer free initial consultations, so there is no out-of-pocket obligations to you.

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