Understanding the Difference Between Testimonial and Non-Testimonial Statements
As a Tulsa lawyer, I often deal with cases that involve the Confrontation Clause and testimonial statements. The Confrontation Clause is a part of the U.S. Constitution that grants the right to confront and cross-examine witnesses in criminal prosecutions. However, this right can be violated when hearsay evidence is introduced, particularly when the hearsay is a testimonial statement.
There are two levels to consider when dealing with hearsay evidence. The first is the rule of evidence, which applies in all kinds of proceedings, while the second is the constitutional ground of the Confrontation Clause. The latter offers greater protection to the defendant’s rights, and the court has less authority to allow evidence that violates these rights.
Limitations of the Confrontation Clause
The Crawford v. Washington case sets some limitations on the Confrontation Clause’s protection. If the witness is unavailable to testify, but there was a prior opportunity for cross-examination, hearsay statements can still come in without violating the Clause. For example, if a witness testified at a preliminary hearing but is unavailable for trial, the transcript of that testimony can still be used in court.
Moreover, the Confrontation Clause only applies to testimonial statements, which are defined in the Davis v. Washington case. Testimonial statements are those made in the course of a police interrogation when there is no ongoing emergency, and the primary purpose is to establish or prove past events potentially relevant to later criminal prosecution.
The Charles v. Oklahoma Case
The recent Charles v. Oklahoma case offers insights into how the Confrontation Clause and testimonial statements are applied in practice. In this domestic violence case, the prosecution introduced 911 calls that the victim made during the incident. The court determined that the first 911 call, made during the emergency, was a non-testimonial statement and, therefore, did not violate the Confrontation Clause. The second statement, made after the emergency had ended and the police were investigating the incident, was testimonial and should not have been introduced as evidence without the opportunity for cross-examination.
Get Legal Advice on Confrontation Clauses and Testimonial Statements
If you are facing a criminal prosecution and believe that your rights under the Confrontation Clause have been violated, you need to consult a criminal defense attorney in Oklahoma. Visit us at makelaweasy.com to schedule a consultation.