Can Officers Effectively Prosecute Domestic Violence Cases Without Victim Participation?

Can Officers Effectively Prosecute Domestic Violence Cases Without Victim Participation?

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When prosecuting criminal domestic violence cases too many officers constructed their entire case only on statements made by the victim. However, “victims of domestic violence are more likely than victims of other violent crime to recant or refuse to cooperate in prosecutorial efforts” (Breitenbach, 2008, p. 1256). Officers must consider that victims of domestic violence may refuse to testify because of fear of retaliation, intimidation, financial dependence, emotional attachment, and/or because they reunited with the batterer. If the victim refused to testify during court, their statement against the abuser becomes hearsay evidence. Several recent cases have had a huge influence on how those statements and hearsay evidence may be utilized in court without the victim’s testimony.
In 2004, the Supreme Court ruled on the case of Crawford v Washington and found that testimonial assertions were not exceptions to the hearsay rule (Breitenbach, 2008). Since the purpose of a testimonial statement was to prove and/or establish facts in a case, the defendant had a right to cross examination of that testimony. This right was termed the Confrontation Clause. Due to the confusion created by the Crawford standard, the Supreme Court provided more parameters in Davis v Washington in June 2006 (Ewing, 2007). Davis established victim accounts as either testimonial or non-testimonial. The courts also believed this included statements taken during the course of an interrogation conducted by law enforcement. If the declarations were acquired by law enforcement to determine an ongoing emergency then they were identified by the court as non-testimonial and not subject to the requirements of the Confrontation Clause. If the statements we...

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...ion of the victim.

Works Cited

Breitenbach, K. G. (2008, Fall). Battling the threat: the successful prosecution of domestic violence after Davis v. Washington. Albany Law Review, 71(4), 1255+. Retrieved from
Byrom, C. E. (2005). The Use of the Excited Utterance Hearsay Exception in the Prosecution of Domestic Violence Cases After Crawford v. Washington. Review Of Litigation, 24(2), 409-428.
Ellison, L. L. (2002). Prosecuting Domestic Violence without Victim Participation. Modern Law Review, 65(6), 834-858.
Ewing, D. (2007). Prosecuting Batterers in the Wake of Davis and Hammon. American Journal Of Criminal Law, 35(1), 91-106.
Pence, E. & Paymar, M. (2001). Domestic violence: The law enforcement response. Minneapolis, MN: Law Enforcement Resource Center.

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