Can My Child Testify in Court During My Criminal Case?
If a child bears witness to a crime like domestic violence, they may be subpoenaed to testify in a criminal court. Testifying before a judge and jury can be incredibly stressful for children and their parents, especially if one parent is the defendant. While it may be impossible to keep your child from experiencing this stress, it is vital to be aware of your legal options to protect your and your child’s rights.
If you have been charged with a crime in California and suspect your child may be called to testify, do not hesitate to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. At Dod Law, APC, we have 18 years of experience defending the rights of the criminally accused and achieving favorable results for their cases. When you partner with us, you can rest assured that we will use our compassion, experience, and skills to build a strong defense on your behalf.
Does My Child Have to Testify?
If your child receives a subpoena, they may be required to testify. A subpoena is a court order that compels an individual to appear before the court at a specific time and place. It is essential to note that you cannot ignore a subpoena. A parent or guardian that fails to comply with a subpoena and does not take their child to court to testify could be held in contempt. Those held in contempt of court may face heavy fines or even time behind bars.
However, it may be possible to challenge a subpoena by filing a motion with the court. A skilled criminal defense attorney may be able to help you modify the subpoena or overturn it entirely. Your attorney will work with you to understand the details of your situation and advise you on your and your child’s legal options.
Determining the Competency of Child Witnesses
Since a child’s brain is not fully developed, many individuals wonder if children can be considered competent witnesses. In order to determine whether the child is competent to testify, the judge will interview the child in closed chambers to determine if the child meets the following criteria:
- They can accurately recall events
- They can communicate effectively
- They understand the difference between truth and lies
- They understand the importance of delivering an honest and truthful testimony
In many cases, children as young as three or four years old may be found competent and asked to testify. If your child is asked to testify, it is essential to not attempt to tamper with or influence their testimony as well as take steps to protect their mental well-being. Testifying against a parent or caretaker can be especially traumatic for children. An experienced attorney can help connect you with child psychologists and pediatricians to ensure your child is prepared and emotionally supported before and after their appearance in court. Your child may benefit from having their own legal counsel to ensure their rights are fully protected.
Partner With a Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney
Testifying during a parent’s criminal case can be incredibly stressful and overwhelming for children and place strain on their relationships with their parents. If you have been charged with a crime in California and your child has been ordered to testify, it is essential to understand your and your child’s legal rights and options.
At Dod Law, APC, our attorneys are dedicated to helping our clients navigate their most difficult challenges with experience and care. When you retain our services, your attorney will conduct a full investigation into your case and advise you on your best course of action moving forward. To schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help you, call us at (619) 814-5110 or complete our contact form today.