blog home Criminal Defense How Marsy’s Law Impacts Victim Testimonies

How Marsy’s Law Impacts Victim Testimonies

By San Diego Attorney on January 30, 2021

The validity of a victim’s testimony and their willingness to testify in court can heavily influence the results of a criminal trial. In most cases, the prosecution cannot pursue charges against a defendant unless the alleged victim testifies. However, just because a victim is unavailable or refusing to testify does not mean you should breathe a sigh of relief. There are important scenarios where you can still be prosecuted for a crime even if the victim does not testify.

When Is a Victim’s Testimony Required?

A victim’s testimony is typically necessary when the majority of the evidence of a crime is based on their statement. If there are no other witnesses, video evidence, or DNA to support the charges against you, the district attorney may choose to drop the charges. In some cases, the DA may even choose to charge the victim with contempt of court if they are sworn in court to testify and refuse, or charge them with falsely reporting a crime.

However, this all depends on the circumstances of the case and even who the district attorneys and judge are. District attorneys vary in terms of their skills, and more experienced attorneys may choose to pursue a case despite a lack of evidence. In contrast, if the judge overseeing your case has strict criteria about what type of evidence they will accept, then the district attorney may base the decision on how much evidence the prosecution has besides a victim’s testimony.

In addition, if you confessed to a crime, then the district attorney may base the case on that alone, even if the victim does not testify. In these cases, your defense lawyer may make a motion to have your confession excluded if it was illegally obtained.

Marsy’s Law and Victim Testimonies

In 2008, California voters passed Proposition 9, otherwise known as Victims’ Bill of Rights Act of 2008: Marsy’s Law, which expanded the victim’s bill of rights and California’s constitution to include a legal exception for victims who refuse to testify in specific situations. Marsy’s Law generally allows victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and child molestation to refuse to testify in a pretrial hearing without the fear of being placed in jail. They may, however, still be issued court fines for refusing to testify if the case moves on to a criminal trial.

If you have been accused of domestic violence and the alleged victim refuses to testify, you may assume the case will be dropped, but that is not always true. The district attorney may look at several factors when determining if they will file domestic violence charges, such as 911 calls, police reports, and testimonies from other witnesses. Since the victim has the legal protections of Marsy’s Law, you may face serious charges if the victim still refuses to testify. The same situation can occur in a molestation or sexual assault accusation.

Given the complex nature of Marsy’s Law, it is important to contact a skilled and experienced San Diego criminal defense lawyer to fight the charges against you. At jD LAW, our lead attorney is a board-certified criminal law specialist and has years of experience as a former LAPD investigator to draw on to assist with your case. If you choose to work with us, we will thoroughly review the evidence against you to build a strong legal defense. Even if a victim is refusing to testify, we can advocate for your charges to be reduced or dropped in a criminal court. To get started on your case, call jD LAW at (760) 630-2000 and schedule a free consultation.

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Posted in: Criminal Defense

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James N. Dicks
jD LAW, P.C.

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