What happens if the victim fails to appear for the trial?
We are frequently asked if you can be convicted if the victim fails to show up for the trial. In Indiana, the answer is that a conviction is still possible if the victim made statements prior to the trial that a court determines to be non-testimonial.
In Ward v. State, Ward was charged with battering his girlfriend, J.M. During treatment of her injuries, J.M. told a paramedic and a forensic nurse that Ward was her attacker. When J.M. failed to appear for depositions or to testify at trial, the State used her statements to the paramedic and forensic nurse to obtain a conviction even though Ward objected that the evidence was testimonial hearsay that violated his constitutional right to confront and cross examine his accuser. The Indiana Supreme Court determined the statements were non-testimonial. Asking J.M. who attacked her was not aimed at obtaining a substitute for trial testimony – rather, it was a vital part of providing appropriate medical and psychological treatment and service referrals. Therefore, the court decided J.M.’s hearsay statements were properly admitted into evidence and affirmed Ward’s convictions for felony battery and domestic battery.
If you find yourself having been arrested, you should immediately hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer such as Steven Knecht to help you fight the State.