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Child Victim Credibility and Sex Crimes

Child victim credibility is difficult for the prosecution to establish at times, that is why the defense must be tactical and methodical in dealing with the child victim.

A child victim is often times less than 13 at the time the offense occurred. Youth may provide the witness with enhanced credibility in the eyes of the jury. Why would a child lie, many will ask? But, the constant interaction of forensic examiners, police, child advocates, nurses, children and youth advocates, victim witness coordinators and prosecutors with the witness may provide the defense with valuable ammunition to combat the seemingly consistent victim's testimony.

A child is unlikely to recall specifics about an incident in the same way as an adult. Further, they usually forget dates, times, or where they were precisely. They are often times very unclear about what happened, but know that "something happened." The role of the prosecution team is to assist the child in remembering details and helping them to understand that what occurred is wrong and they should discuss it with the adults in the room.

A child may first report the incident to an adult with whom they feel closely. A child will likely provide "their story" to a Children's Resource Center nurse or staff member. It will be video and audio recorded. They will give a statement to police, prosecutors and a victim witness coordinator. All of those folks will have received some version of events even before the child testifies for the first time under oath before a magisterial district judge.

This is precisely why the defense must be careful and exploit the consistent barrage of nurses, doctors, victim advocates and the like that will provide the young victim with plenty of attention and promote "truth telling." A child doesn't necessarily know that what they are doing is right or wrong, but they do recognize that many adults are giving them much needed attention. The psychological impact of this "coaching" is a key factor for the defense in dismantling the child victim's credibility and veracity. Minor, if not seemingly, insignificant changes in testimony over time to various persons provide much needed fodder for a skillful defense attorney to tactically and methodically dismantle the child's credibility.

If you've been charged or are being investigated for the commission of a sex offense against a child, contact an experienced Child Sex Abuse Defense Attorney at Shaffer & Engle Law Offices, LLC.