Supreme Court Ruling

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Domestic violence cases will be more difficult to prosecute following a U.S. Supreme Court decision that will make it harder for prosecutors to use out-of-court statements as evidence against defendants.

The court ruled that allowing a murder victim’s earlier reports to police to be admitted as evidence denies the suspect’s right to confront his accuser unless the killing was committed to silence the accuser.

The court ruled 6-3 to overturn the murder conviction of a Los Angeles man who shot and killed his girlfriend. The man claimed the killing was done in self-defense but was convicted after a police officer testified that the woman had reported that the man threatened her life.

Until 2004, prosecutors could introduce statements made by victims who were unable or unwilling to testify, including statements made to police.  Police can now testify about what they witnessed, but cannot repeat statements made by the victim unless prosecutors can prove that the victim was killed in order to silence him/her.

However, proving that a killing occurred to silence the victim is extremely difficult. The court’s ruling will also impact domestic violence cases where the victim is available to testify but unwilling to do so.

To learn more about prosecution and defenses to California domestic violence cases, contact a skilled defense lawyer from The Kavinoky Law Firm today for a free consultation