Rights to Confront Your Accuser in Criminal Charges

  
January 30, 2013
By James E. Novak, P.L.L.C. on January 30, 2013 1:56 PM |

The correct way to confront your accuser as afforded under the 6th Amendment of the US Constitution.

Your Legal Rights to Confront Your Accuser or Witness


A defendant has many rights under the State and US Constitution. The 6th Amendment of the US Constitution affords the accused of the right to confront their accuser or witnesses against them.

Under the Arizona State Law A.R.S. 13-114 (3) a person is afforded the right to confront witnesses against them, in a criminal case, as prescribed by law.

It should go without saying, that this does not mean a person has right to physically or directly confront a person, outside of the criminal justice process. It means that a defendant has a right to confront witness against them as part of legal proceedings. This is the most commonly and effectively done through cross-examination of a witness in trial, through the defendant's criminal defense attorney. It involves questioning the witness regarding their testimony.

If these rights are violated, it may lead to suppression of the eyewitness identification or testimony. Violation of this right may lead to suppression of the witness testimony being used as evidence against a defendant.


Challenges to Witness Testimony

The Six Amendment also protects a defendant from being found guilty of a crime, based on "hear say" testimony. Some questions regarding admittance of evidence for example "here say" testimony, the parties may negotiate or decide the matters during evidentiary hearings, or conferences. If the Prosecution and Defense are in disagreement regarding the validity of a particular witness testimony, the judge may rule on whether or not it may be admitted.

Other factors may invalidate a witness statement or prove them less than accurate, before or during trial. Validity of a testimony may be compromised due to such external factors including: influences by other people; obstruction of a witnesses view; length of time that has elapsed since the incident and the testimony; confusion; reduction of recollection of the incident by the witness; unbiased nature of the witness; lack of proper lighting to see the witness; inattention of the witness during the incident, distractions or noise surrounding the witness; stress and other circumstances. In these cases, the defense lawyer may file a motion to suppress that the invalid testimony or identification, from being admitted so that it may not be used against the defendant.

Nonetheless, other material evidence should be always be used to increase the validity of witness identification or testimony. Material evidence may include such things as photographs, surveillance video, fingerprints and DNA comparisons.


Burden of Proof

In absence of a "guilty" plea or conviction, a defendant is guilty until proven otherwise by a court of law. In order to get a conviction, the State of Arizona and Prosecution must prove "beyond a reasonable doubt" that a defendant is guilty of committing a crime.

If the prosecution wishes to use a witness statement or identification against the defendant, their defense attorney will usually examine this identification or testimony to confirm its validity. If the witness identification or testimony raises reasonable doubt due to invalidity, it may lead to suppression of this evidence, and in some cases, a dismissal of charges.


Criminal Attorney for defense of criminal charges in Mesa AZ

Any criminal charges in Arizona can potentially be serious. You should always consult a qualified criminal defense attorney before pleading guilty to any criminal offense. Although you may have been arrested, you are still presumed innocent by law. You have the right to hire a lawyer to defend your charges. If retained, they will protect your rights; make sure you are treated fairly, and defend the charges against you. This will increase your chances of getting a favorable resolution in your case.

Additional Resources:


The 6th Amendment of the Constitution


Arizona State Legislature - Right to Witness Confrontation


Arizona State Legislature - Presumption of Innocence


Arizona Rules of Evidence - Recent Amendments


Mesa AZ Municipal Court


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