I recently had a case in the Valencia courthouse where my client was charged with a domestic violence charge. This really emphasizes when the prosecutors can bring in certain evidence and use that evidence even without the alleged victim testifying. In this particular case, the alleged victim who was the wife of my client decided that she didn’t want to testify and did not cooperate with the prosecutors as far as them being able to serve a subpoena on her and basically, she was not available to them at the time of trial. So, a lot of times under these circumstances, the prosecutors will just simply dismiss the case, either because they feel like the alleged victim is not interested in prosecuting the case, therefore, why should they be, especially if the defendant has no criminal record.
But there are, sometimes when the prosecutors will still prosecute the case. There’s a case called Crawford which basically allows them to get in certain evidence, even though the victim in a domestic violence case is not available. In this case, that’s exactly what the prosecutors did. They filed a motion. They had a 9-1-1 tape of the alleged victim, basically saying a lot of things and if they were true, then my client would be guilty of the domestic violence charge. So, they got the judge to rule that they could put that 9-1-1 tape in and then around that 9-1-1 tape they called the police officers to testify how the wife looked when they got there, how the inside of the house looked. Basically, they were trying to support tat 9-1-1 tape which basically said my client had punched his wife in the face.
Now, after they were done, we ended up calling my client to the witness stand and obviously, he gave his version of events. Fortunately for us, he was a big guy and a punch to the face really wasn’t substantiated. The bottom line is, the wife had no injury to her face. So, that was one thing where the jury really had to kind of scratch their head and say, wait a minute, if he punched her in the face then where’s her injury. Does she have sort of solid jaw or something? It really didn’t make any sense. We also ended up ourselves tracking down the wife and calling her as a witness and she obviously gave her account and she had indicated that she didn’t tell the truth about everything that happened and she explained why. So, we were able to get a not guilty verdict in the case.
This is an example of how some of these domestic violence cases throughout Los Angeles County — and I’ve been doing this for twenty-five years — can just take weird turns where you don’t think the prosecutors are going to prosecute a case and they end up prosecuting it. It really is unfair in my opinion, this Crawford case which is allowing them to put on certain evidence and then the defense doesn’t have an opportunity to cross-examine and confront that evidence. How is the defense supposed to cross-examine or defend against a 9-1-1 tape? We can’t ask any questions about it. We can’t ask the person because they’re not there. Ultimately, we ended up getting her there. Fortunately, we were able to find her but if we couldn’t that puts us in a difficult position.
In a circumstance like that, what you’re going to need to do is point out problems with that 9-1-1 tape. Now, the police are using Crawford to get in domestic violence witness statements when the police come and they have a body cam on. That body cam evidence can be used in domestic violence or spousal abuse cases in Los Angeles if they’ve got their alleged victim basically giving the story about what happened. They can play that. And again, I don’t think that’s fair, because if they can’t find the alleged victim, how is the defense supposed to cross-examine that person? If there are inconsistencies in their story, how is the defense supposed to point those inconsistencies out. Sure, you can put on the evidence that shows there’s no injury here or this didn’t happen, but really, the best evidence in these cases is to be able to cross-examine the alleged victim and say okay, if this is true that you got punched in the face by a 225 pound man, how come there’s no injury on your face, and look at them and see how they answer that, because the answer to that question will destroy the case for the prosecutor because there really isn’t an answer to that question and it’s going to be clear the person did not tell the truth.
So, if you have a domestic violence case in LA County, get on the phone now. Get the process rolling. I’ve been doing this for twenty-five years. Call me. We’ll get this thing moving in the right direction. Even if there’s no defense in the case because they have the evidence — still, all is not lost. Get somebody like me who’s been doing this a long time — who can do damage control and get the right strategy together for your particular case.
For more information on Domestic Violence Results In LA County, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (213) 542-0940 today.