Hearsay in a Post-Crawford world in Domestic Violence cases.

I got into a fight with my girlfriend. We had an argument. She left. She did not call the cops. Her girlfriend called the cops behind her back because the friend thought i was abusing her. I was not abusing her. The cops interviewed my girlfriend. She told them she didn't want to press charges. I got a citation in the mail for harassment. They labeled it domestic violence. Can this happen? Will it stick? Is it hearsay?

The cops can recommend to the DA to charge someone with anything and the DA can proceed with any charges they want to proceed with. The issue is whether you can be found guilty of the charge without your girlfriend testifying?

In Crawford v. Washington, the Supreme Court of United States said that the DA can't proceed with the statement of a complainant only if the statement was testimonial in nature because it would violate your constitutional right to confront the complainant. The Supremes did not, however, define testimonial.

At a magisterial judicial court in PA, I think anything goes. In other words, if your girlfriend doesn't show up, the judge may let the cop testify as to the hearsay statement from your girlfriend. However, if you lose and appeal to Common Pleas Court, which is your right, I don't think the DA can proceed without your girlfriend, if the judge rules that the statement is testimonial under Crawford. In my opinion, if the cop took the statement to prosecute you, its testimonial because the cop knew at the time of taking the statement that your girlfriend wasn't coming to court. If its testimonial, it doesn't come in for any reason under Crawford.

Labels: , , ,