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Best Seattle Criminal Defense Attorneys | Why You Should Care About The “Confrontation” Clause

As defense lawyers we often most counsel clients who are mystified as to why they have been accused of a crime. Wrong place, wrong time, misidentification by a witness or even a payback for a grudge the client doesn’t even remember. Everyone in their own lives must have had the occasion to have been accused of something they just didn’t do: in the simplest forms a gossip and in the most major cases a criminal offense. It is a terrible situation to be in. Yes, the accused are not always guilty and that is why we have the adversarial criminal justice system.

The role of the criminal defense attorney is to take the client’s side and attempt the best resolution to the situation by providing a defense before or at a trial. Some cases can be resolved without going to trial and charges can be thrown out.

The most basic protection provided by the Constitution is in the Sixth Amendment. Simply stated, you have the right to confront your accusers. A right to cross-examine their testimony and even in the case of “documents” the right to examine the preparer of those documents and to know their source. 

In several reasoned articles from the SCOTUS blog, the case of the “Confrontation Clause” is examined. It is rather complex but has real-life application before and after the criminal trial. Recently the Court heard “oral argument in Williams v. Illinois, a follow-up to its decision in Bullcoming v. New Mexico and the recent line of cases dating to Crawford v. Washington more robustly applying the Confrontation Clause.” 

In Crawford V. Washington the line was firmly drawn: that if it is “testimony” their must be a confrontation between the accused and the witness giving the testimony. But later cases, however, where the “testimony” may be documents prepared by someone unavailable to testify. Williams presents the question whether an expert’s testimony about the substance of an analyst’s report violates the Confrontation Clause if the government does not make the analyst available for confrontation.”

Hearsay exceptions have always been recognized but in the brave new world of forensic science (and specifically in cold case reports which may not have a foundation  — and the preparer is dead or otherwise unavailable) this ruling is problematic. It means evidence and experts can be brought in to provide testimony that is not “officially” testimony that would violate the confrontation clause.

The attorneys of the Crowley Law Firm watch this rulings and their application for the client. They bring all their resources to bear in defending those accused who seek counsel with the firm.  If you have been wrongly accused of a crime and need the best possible defense from experienced attorney, please call the Crowley Law Firm at the numbers on this website.