On June 18, 2015, the United States Supreme Court handed down its opinion in Ohio v. Clark, 13-1352 (June 18, 2015), holding that a trial court’s admission of out-of-court statements that a three-year-old child made to his teacher ddid not violate the defendant’s right to cross-examine the child regarding the statements according to the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Known as the Confrontation Clause, this principle outlines a number of rights for defendants in criminal proceedings, including the right to confront their accusers. This rule has many complexities, particularly when it comes to the admission of hearsay, which is an out-of-court statement offered for the truth of the matter asserted.
In a 2004 case, the United States Supreme Court clarified the scope of this rule, holding that a defendant had the right to cross-examine an individual regarding out-of-court statements when those statements are testimonial in nature. According to the court, a statement is “testimonial when the circumstances indicate that there is no ongoing emergency, and that the primary purpose of the interrogation is to establish or prove past events potentially relevant to later criminal prosecution.”
According to Florida Statute 90.803(23), a Florida court can permit a witness other than a child to testify regarding the type of sexual abuse that a child may have suffered based on statements that the child made to the witness. More specifically, the victim of an alleged sex crime against a minor 16 years of age or less is not required to testify at the defendant’s trial regarding the specific abuse allegations.