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Children aren’t always reliable witnesses in molestation cases

| Dec 21, 2019 | Sexual assault |

Facing child molestation charges can be terrifying, even if the alleged perpetrator is found innocent. In many cases, children who were the alleged victims get called to the stand for questioning about their recollections of the alleged encounter.

However, many children can often be unreliable witnesses, especially those who are very young. That’s because they can’t always comprehend what’s going on and may be more easily influenced by those going after the accused.

Why some child testimonies may not be credible

In a recent study from Queen’s University, researchers assessed the honesty and reliability of a child’s court testimony by examining the accuracy of their observations through a series of mock interviews. From the results, researchers’ concluded that while kids gave more honest answers than adults, their limited memory, communication skills and responsiveness to suggestions made them less reliable witnesses during a trial.

Legal professionals can’t always communicate

While a child’s age often plays a role in the credibility of their testimony, judges and lawyers can also contribute to factual inaccuracies. That’s because many don’t know how to speak to a child to get the information they need. These examples of things some might do:

  • Asking complicated questions the child may not understand.
  • Making the child feel like there is a right or wrong answer to their questions.
  • Using language and phrases that do not make sense to the child.
  • Making the child feel anxious or scared by using a harsh tone or loud voice.

Those accused of child sex crimes deserve due process

Facing accusations of child molestation can be life-ruining. Depending on a person’s circumstances, if the facts and evidence don’t get accurately evaluated, they could face dire consequences for a crime they didn’t commit. Those accused of having an inappropriate sexual relationship with a child will want legal representation. A criminal defense attorney experienced in dealing with child testimony can help ensure their story coincides up with the facts and evidence in the case.