Crawford v. Washington Case
I recently had a case in the Valencia courthouse where my client was charged with domestic violence. This emphasizes when the prosecutors can bring in specific evidence and use that evidence even without the alleged victim testifying. In this particular case, the alleged victim, who was my client's wife, 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. She was not available to them at the time of trial.
So, often under these circumstances, the prosecutors will dismiss the case 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 still prosecute the case. There's a case called Crawford, which allows them to get in specific 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.
They were trying to support that 9-1-1 tape, which said my client had punched his wife in the face. After they were done, we called 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 wasn't substantiated.
The bottom line is the wife had no injury to her face. So, that was one thing where the jury 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 a sort of solid jaw or something? It didn't make any sense. We also tracked down the wife and called her as a witness, and she gave her account and indicated that she didn't tell the truth about everything that happened, and she explained why. So, we could get a not guilty verdict in the case.
This is an example of how some of these domestic violence cases — and I've been doing this for twenty-five years — can take weird turns where you don't think the prosecutors are going to prosecute a chance, and they end up charging it. In my opinion, it is unfair that this Crawford case allows them to put on specific evidence. 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 could find her, but that puts us in a difficult position if we can't.
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 if they've got their alleged victim 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 guard 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. Still, 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 isn't an answer to that question. It's going to be clear the person did not tell the truth.
Retain a Domestic Violence Lawyer
So, if you have a domestic violence case in Los Angeles County or the San Fernando Valley, get on the phone now and call the Hedding Law Firm. Get the process rolling. I've been doing this for twenty-five years. 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 a lawyer 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.