Top Family advocacy centers are a relatively new innovation in the "War on Domestic Violence. Many communities are combining the two into one super center. The City of Phoenix Arizona may have been the first to create a strictly domestic violence center upon opening the Family Advocacy Center in August How many of those cases resulted in criminal convictions could not be ascertained.
The City of Irving Family Advocacy Center describes its goal to "bring together those police units and outside agencies that provide support, prosecution, and therapy for victims of domestic violence, child abuse, and sexual assault.
Again, not surprisingly, Irving boasts of rising statistical increases in the number of domestic violence cases received since the creation of its Family Advocacy Center. Consistent with Phoenix, the Irving police department web site does not cite statistics regarding actual criminal convictions.
Rest assured, a Family Advocacy Center is coming soon to a neighborhood near you. Collin County, Texas is one of the communities applying for the federal grant money. However, a spokesman for the Collin County District Attorney's office indicated the county "would pursue the center even if it did not win the grant.
But without financial backing, the project would take longer. North Texas is an active participant in the domestic violence industry. Dallas and Denton Counties have instituted specialty family violence courts, in which domestic violence cases are almost the only cases on the docket. Specialized courts allow prosecutors and judges to create a uniform method to streamline cases. The accused faces a tremendous obstacle in a domestic violence court. The court's very existence is silently predicated upon convicting as many defendants as possible.
Only convictions can feed the system, as with convictions come fines, community supervision fees, battering intervention program costs, and other methods of pouring money back into the industry. Rising numbers of convictions mean the need for more prosecutors, judges, probation officers, domestic violence counselors, domestic violence programs, and more specialized domestic violence courts. Convictions also support the propaganda generating the movement: Since there is not a nationwide plethora of domestic violence, the protectors needed assistance in the form of fuzzy math.
The fuzzy math problem was easily solved. Simply cite statistics that show the number of domestic violence "contacts" or "services provided" rather than domestic violence convictions.
By using "contacts" as the statistical benchmark, domestic violence crusaders are able to point to every police dispatch to a family argument as a "case. This approach is running into problems as potential "victims" are now more afraid of the legal system than their partners. How would prosecutors secure criminal convictions in court after arresting lovers and family members for arguments and trivial push-shove matches? For this, the protectors and politicians needed to change the law.
The legislature responded with open arms. Changing the rules to convict Legislative changes Top Pro-football star, Warren Moon, former quarterback of the Houston Oilers and Minnesota Vikings was charged with domestic violence assault in July The case captured national attention as his wife, the alleged victim, Felicia Moon did not want to testify or pursue charges.
The prosecution forced Felicia Moon to testify after the Texas Legislature amended and limited the "husband-wife" privilege. Prior to the change in the law, a spouse could elect not to be a witness for the state to testify against the other spouse. Moon to throw a 2-pound candle holder at Moon's back. Moon ended up with scratches and bruises around her neck and shoulders. Moon said that he was probably responsible for the injuries but that he was trying to calm his wife, not harm her. Moon likewise insisted her husband never intended o hurt her.
She had pleaded with prosecutors to not press charges but was forced to take the stand under a law eliminating the right to refuse to testify against one's spouse. More than 40 states have eliminated the spousal privilege.
The amendment to the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure and Rules of Evidence authorize the prosecution to mandate a spouse to testify against the other spouse. The privilege of a person's spouse not to be called as a witness for the state does not apply: A Certain criminal proceedings.
In any proceeding in which the person is charged with a crime against the person's spouse, a member of the household of either spouse, or any minor. In addition to the legislative changes, Texas Appellate Courts have broadened hearsay exceptions, authorizing the prosecution to introduce supposed prior statements of an alleged victim.
Hearsay Evidence Top Hearsay is defined as "a statement, other than one made by the declarant while testifying at the trial or hearing, offered in evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted. In layman's terms, hearsay occurs when a witness testifies regarding what they heard someone else say. Hearsay is inadmissible at trial; however, there are many exceptions to the hearsay rule.
In domestic violence cases, hearsay evidence is often admitted as substantive evidence of guilt. It is typical for courts to allow a police officer to testify to the officer's memory of what the victim supposedly said at the time of the incident.
This testimony is admitted even though the victim's alleged statements were not recorded by the officer. Rather, the officer is testifying from notes in the police report made several hours or even days after the arrest.
This testimony is admitted as an "excited utterance. It is common for a statement to be admitted at trial as an excited utterance even if the incident occurred several hours prior to the officer obtaining the statement from the victim. The hearsay exception of excited utterances also allows the state to play the recorded "" call from the victim to the jury.
Whether an "excited utterance" is admissible is within the discretion of the trial court judge. A criminal defense attorney will object to hearsay testimony as a violation of the defendant's right to confront their accuser at trial. When a witness at trial is reciting hearsay testimony, the defendant cannot cross-examine or confront the person who actually made the statement. The person who made the statement, called the declarant, is not the witness on the stand.
The United States Constitution and state constitutions guarantee the defense the right to confront the accuser at trial. Generally speaking, an objection on the grounds the confrontation clause was violated is overruled by the trial court judge if the state can prove a hearsay exception. Lexis , 72 U. In Crawford, the Court found the confrontation clause was violated when a recorded statement by Crawford's spouse was played for the jury. Crawford's wife did not testify at trial under Washington's "husband-wife" privilege.
The case may not impact traditional hearsay rule exceptions. The Court made a distinction between "testimonial" and "non-testimonial" hearsay. The spouse in Crawford had also been arrested and gave her statement while in police custody. The Court found those circumstances to be testimonial hearsay, inadmissible as a violation of the confrontation clause when the recording was played at trial and she did not testify.
Crawford does not cover "non-testimonial" statements such as when a spouse makes incriminating statements against the alleged battering spouse on a "" call. Additionally, the Crawford v Washington ruling may not apply to "excited utterance" hearsay statements made by the victim when police first arrive on the scene. That question will be addressed by state appellate courts.
With anticipated pressure from the domestic violence Industry, state appellate courts may take a very narrow view of the Crawford v Washington holding, and still allow hearsay statements into evidence.
It is extremely rare for any state appeals court to overturn a domestic violence conviction on any grounds. The prosecutors are borrowing concepts from child sexual assault cases and attempting to expand them to family violence cases.
In many states, prosecutors in child abuse cases can offer expert testimony that a child is suffering from the Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation Syndrome C. This syndrome is based on the theory that abused children will exhibit certain character traits indicative of abuse. Prosecutors in adult domestic assault cases are now attempting to show a victim who recants or changes her original story is suffering from Battered Woman's Syndrome.
The new prosecutorial trend is to use the syndrome to explain why a victim of domestic violence would recant. The state wants the jury to hear expert testimony explaining that a victim is likely to recant, not due to the absence of violence, but because she is a battered woman. The nation's leading expert on the syndrome, Dr. Lenore Walker, states in her book The Battered Woman Syndrome that there are four general characteristics of the syndrome: The woman believes that the violence was her fault.
The woman has an inability to place the responsibility for the violence elsewhere. The woman has an irrational belief that the abuser is omnipresent and omniscient. Walker found nine typical characteristics of the battered wife: Slowly the syndrome is appearing in domestic violence courts throughout the country as a means to strengthen the state's case against the accused.
The majority of courts are disallowing expert testimony without specific proof the victim in that case suffers from the syndrome. However, it is anticipated this syndrome will soon gain the same status as C. With syndrome evidence, the state replaces its lack of real proof with speculation. Expert testimony stating the wife is a battered woman can be fatal to the falsely accused. A wife testifying for the defendant describing the incident may tell the jury she exaggerated or was the instigator herself.
The prosecution in rebuttal will call an expert witness to inform the jury that she is testifying in a manner consistent with being a battered spouse and merely protecting her husband or lover.
A variety of state law cases indicate this prosecutorial trend seeking to introduce evidence the victim belongs to the class of persons known as "Battered Woman's Syndrome" is spreading: State, Court of Appeals of Alaska, Alas.
Yusuf, Appellate Court of Connecticut, 70 Conn. LEXIS ; 4. Niemeyer, Appellate Court of Connecticut, 55 Conn. LEXIS ; 5. LEXIS ; 7. Convictions without physical evidence Top Defendants have been convicted of domestic violence without any physical evidence introduced against them at trial. In many cases, the argument resulting in the arrest was so slight the alleged victim does not need or seek medical treatment.
Frequently, the accused is convicted for intentionally causing "bodily injury" without any testimony from a qualified medical expert.