Can a minor child testify in a jury trial? 54 Answers as of May 31, 2013

A minor is accused of rape. Is it okay for him to testify in a jury trial? Can a psychologist testify as well? Should reports from both be used as evidence in this trial?

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Burdon and Merlitti
Burdon and Merlitti | Adam Van Ho
Yes, a minor can testify in a trial. Additionally, the psychologist's report/observations may also be admitted. Without knowing more about the facts of the case, it is impossible for me to say if the reports and/or testimony should be admitted as it is a very fact/case-specific answer.
Answer Applies to: Ohio
Replied: 1/3/2012
Law Office of William L Spern | William Spern
Reports are hearsay and not admissible. A defendant can never be compelled to testify. A psychologist for the prosecution can testify but not a psychologist for the child.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 12/12/2011
Edward  D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law
Edward D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law | Edward D. Dowling IV
A psychologist can testify if qualified as an expert and is on the witness list. A child ,may or may not be able to testify depending on age and other factors such as is the judge satisfied that the child understands the difference between telling the truth and telling a lie, and the nature of taking an oath to tell the truth.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 12/7/2011
Freeborn Law Offices, P.S.
Freeborn Law Offices, P.S. | Steve Freeborn
It is up to the judge, but basically anyone can testify. If the minor you are referencing to is the defendant (person charged), whether or not the minor testifies should be left up to the attorney defending him, based upon the facts of the case. It is not always wise for the defendant to testify. Yes, a psychologist can testify if that person has relevant information and the appropriate foundation has been laid with the court to enable the person to testify. Reports by themselves may be considered to be hearsay and therefore inadmissible. If the person who wrote the report(s) is testifying, then the reports may come in as evidence. You have provided me with no information about the reports so as to enable me to answer more definitively. All of your questions are evidentiary in nature and these are all issues that the defense attorney will deal with and/or address. You really need to work with an attorney of this. Rape is a VERY serious charge and if convicted, can having a lasting impact (registration as a sex offender) for the rest of the person's life.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 12/6/2011
Palumbo and Kosofsky
Palumbo and Kosofsky | Michael Palumbo
Yes, a defendant of any age can testify on his behalf.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 12/5/2011
    Robert Valles and Associates P.C.
    Robert Valles and Associates P.C. | Robert Valles Jr.
    Yes a minor can testify at trial.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 12/5/2011
    Harrison & Harrison
    Harrison & Harrison | Samuel Harrison
    Yes, the child can testify. Yes, a psychologist can testify; whether he should or not is another question. The reports themselves would not be admissible as evidence.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 12/5/2011
    Law Office of James A Schoenberger
    Law Office of James A Schoenberger | James A Schoenberger
    Minors can testify after a hearing to determine their competency to do so. This is not likely to be required where the minor is one charged with the crime, however. A psychologist might testify if the confidentiality is waived.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 12/5/2011
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr. | Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    Yes to all except reports. May be inadmissibe hearsay unless are to impeach a witness. Hire an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/5/2011
    Timothy J. Thill P.C.
    Timothy J. Thill P.C. | Timothy J. Thill
    A minor can certainly testify at a jury trial, assuming he is capable of testifying competantly. If he is very young, he may not be qualified, however pre-teens and teenagers are usually held competant to testify. Psychiatric reports are admissable, however the expert witness (psychologist or psychiatrist) must be present, a report is a heresay document, not admissible on its own, in trial.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 12/5/2011
    Beaulier Law Office
    Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
    Yes. There is nothing that precludes a minor child from testifying unless they are deemed incompetent to testify by a court. Motions seeking to challenge a child's competency are common in cases where young child allege unlawful sexual contact. A psychologist may testify if the evidence sought is relevant and falls within exceptions to hearsay.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 12/5/2011
    Jules N. Fiani, Attorney at Law
    Jules N. Fiani, Attorney at Law | Jules Fiani
    Yes.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 5/31/2013
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg | Eric Sterkenburg
    If the minor is appearing in juvenile court then the judge will hear all relevant testify. If he is being tried in adult court he can testify and the psychologist can testify. The reports can only be used in the people making the reports does testify.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/3/2011
    Michael Edwards, Attorney at Law
    Michael Edwards, Attorney at Law | Michael Edwards
    Yes, a minor can testify at trial. Whether or not it is advisable for him to testify is a decision that must be left to him, his attorney and his parents.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 12/3/2011
    Law Office of Richard Williams
    Law Office of Richard Williams | Richard Williams
    Most likely, all of it could be used.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 12/2/2011
    Law Office of Michael R. Garber
    Law Office of Michael R. Garber | Michael R. Garber
    A minor can testify. A psychologist can testify. I can't say whether reports can be used at trial. Ordinarily reports are hearsay and are admissible only for limited purposes.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 12/2/2011
    Kenyon Law Firm
    Kenyon Law Firm | Todd Kenyon
    Every defendant has a right to testify at their trial. However, putting a defendant on the stand is a major decision. In every criminal case, the State has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty. Your son's attorney and your son will need to discuss the pros and cons of having him testify. He never has to testify and everything he says can be used against him. He will also be subject to cross examination. It is always a very difficult to decision as to having the defendant testify.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 12/2/2011
    Dunnings Law Firm
    Dunnings Law Firm | Steven Dunnings
    Yes to all but reports can be admitted only after being authenticated by the author. Ask your attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 12/2/2011
    Harden Law Offices
    Harden Law Offices | Leonard D. Harden
    There are many issues you raise. A rape trial is a big deal and requires a very experienced attorney. You really need to ask your lawyer these questions. In general minor are deemed competent to testify at trial. All witnesses may testify if that have something relevant to say that may help jury decide the merits. Reports are not normally permitted to be introduced in a trial unless the author is present to be cross examined. On a side note a minor is normally a protected person in a rape case. This means that a minor may not be charged with a statutory rape.
    Answer Applies to: New Hampshire
    Replied: 12/2/2011
    Reeves Law Firm, P.C.
    Reeves Law Firm, P.C. | Roy L. Reeves
    Can a minor testify - yes. Will a minor testify? That is another question. When dealing with minor's who are alleged victims or witnesses, the Court has a duty to protect the child and the system - in other words, the Judge is a gate keeper and there has to be a decision by the Judge whether or not the minor will testify and if so, will it be open or closed tape, etc. Whether or not the psychologist testifies is a matter of establishing an exception to the hearsay rule and getting around the patient therapist privilege. Again, can they? Yes. Will they? Depends on the facts and the Judge. But consider this, no DA in his right mind would let a rookie try a child rape case, so the prosecutor will be skilled and know how to get this testimony into the record - as long as the Dr. is willing. If it is the State's doctor.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 12/2/2011
    Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider
    Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider | Peter Goldscheider
    A minor child if deemed able to understand the truth can testify in a jury trial. A psychologist can testify if his proposed testimony is admissible. (you dont' specify as to what he would say). Reports are inadmissible hearsay unless both sides agree to let them come in instead of the authors testifying themselves.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/2/2011
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C.
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C. | Craig Elhart
    A minor can testify in a trial. If appropriate, a psychologist could also testify. Reports themselves are hearsay so you would need to the author to testify also.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 12/2/2011
    Betts Legal Services
    Betts Legal Services | Shawn M. Betts
    The accused can certainly testify if he chooses to, regardless of whether he is a minor. A psychologist could potentially testify as well, as long as it is deemed his or her opinions/testimony is relevant and reliable. Reports cannot be introduced into evidence.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 12/2/2011
    Law Offices of John Carney
    Law Offices of John Carney | John Carney
    Anyone can testify if the judge determines that they are qualified. The doctor may not be able to testify due to the doctor patient privilege. A child under 5 would probably not qualify to be sworn as a witness.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 12/2/2011
    Mark Thiessen, Attorney at Law
    Mark Thiessen, Attorney at Law | Mark Thiessen
    Absolutely, both can testify. Depends on the trial strategy on what evidence should and is used.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 12/2/2011
    The Law Offices of Robert L. Driessen
    The Law Offices of Robert L. Driessen | Robert L. Driessen
    Yes they can testify. If you are being charged with a crime that alleges rape of a minor you need an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/2/2011
    Austin Legal Services, PLC
    Austin Legal Services, PLC | Jared Austin
    I'm not sure exactly what you are asking here. A child, or anyone for that matter, can testify in a trial as long as they have relevant testimony to share. Everyone is presumed to be competent to testify unless proven otherwise. If the child is accused, he has a Constitutional right not to testify and not to have that silence used against him. That is a decision that he needs to make with his lawyer. It is a crucial one and one that he needs to seriously discuss with his lawyer before making. If he doesn't have a lawyer, you need to make sure he has one.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 12/1/2011
    Cornish, Crowley, Rockafellow, & Sartz, PLLC
    Cornish, Crowley, Rockafellow, & Sartz, PLLC | Jacob Peter Sartz IV
    Yes, a minor child could testify. Whether they should testify is another matter. That's an issue for the attorneys involved with the case and is an important part of their respective trial strategies. Children are often required to testify in a litany of possible court proceedings. If you have questions or concerns about that issue, you should contact whichever attorney is interested in having the child testify and discuss your concerns.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 12/1/2011
    Laguzzi Law, P.C.
    Laguzzi Law, P.C. | Carina Laguzzi
    The decision of whether or not a defendant should testify is the sole decision of the defendant, when the defendant is a minor of course there should be careful consideration that the minor understands his rights and the consequences of testifying. A psychologist may be helpful to the defense but I would need more information before I could advise as to whether this would be helpful or not.
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 12/1/2011
    Fitzpatrick, Mariano, & Santos, PC
    Fitzpatrick, Mariano, & Santos, PC | Raymond J. Savoy
    A minor can testify in a jury trial. Under most circumstances a judge will speak to the minor in his chambers prior to testimony to determine their ability to testify.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 12/1/2011
    Thomas C. Brandstrader Attorney At Law | Thomas C. Brandstrader
    Yes.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 5/31/2013
    Andersen Law PLLC
    Andersen Law PLLC | Craig Andersen
    It depends on the age of the child. Children of 5 or younger are conclusively presumed not to be competent to testify. Children older than five are presumed incompetent but that presumption is rebuttable with evidence that the child knows the truth from a lie. Kids over the age of 6 are competent to testify.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 12/2/2011
    Law Office of Rankin Johnson IV, LLC
    Law Office of Rankin Johnson IV, LLC | Rankin Johnson IV
    The defendant can surely testify, whether a minor or not. A child can testify as long as he or she is old and sophisticated enough to understand questions and answer truthfully. Whether the psychologist can testify, or reports are admissible, depends on a lot of details. Whether the defendant should testify is a hard question most of the time and should be discussed with a lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 12/2/2011
    Charles M. Schiff, Attorney at Law
    Charles M. Schiff, Attorney at Law | Charles M. Schiff
    Without knowing substantially more about the case, I would not want to give an opinion as to whether a child or psychologist should testify in this trial. A defendant, whether adult or minor, does have the right to testify in his own behalf. Whether he should testify in this case is a decision best made after discussion with his legal counsel. The fact that he is a minor does not preclude his testifying in trial.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 12/1/2011
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser | Phillip L. Weiser
    A minor can testify in a trial. Whether it is advisable or not is determined by the age/maturity of the child and whether the court will permit it.
    Answer Applies to: Kansas
    Replied: 12/1/2011
    Frankel & Cohen | Scott Jay Frankel
    These questions should be answered by your attorney. If the juvenile is being charged as an adult for an aggravated criminal sexual assault, there will be many legal issues involved. If you are going to have a jury trial, you must already have an attorney. This is the person you should consult regarding all of your questions.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 12/1/2011
    Law Office of James E. Smith
    Law Office of James E. Smith | James Smith
    An accused minor has the right to testify at trial. An expert psychologist can testify too, but a report is hearsay unless there is the person who prepared the report there in court to be cross examined over its contents.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 12/1/2011
    Connell-Savela
    Connell-Savela | Jason Savela
    Yes the child can testify - if the child is under 10, then the court may hold a competency hearing a psychologist can testify to some things depending on privilege, reports can be used.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 12/1/2011
    Michael Breczinski
    Michael Breczinski | Michael Breczinski
    These ar questions that should be asked of the attorney on the case. Whether the child testifies is a matter of trial strategy. Ditto for the Doctor.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 12/1/2011
    Lawrence Lewis
    Lawrence Lewis | Lawrence Lewis, PC
    If a minor is accused of a crime, the minor has a right to testify at his trial. If the psycohologist is asked to testify on behalf of the accused, it may be OK. If the psychologist is testifyign against the victim, it may not be OK. Consult with your attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 12/1/2011
    Law Office of Christopher G Humphrey PC | Christopher G Humphrey
    Yes, if the Court determines that the Minor understands the difference between a truth and a lie, and has an actual recollection of events and has not been tainted by any outside source. They have to be a true historian. Children have testified in Court as young as 5 or 6. A psychologist can testify if their testimony is not irrelevant, but they may not vouch for the credibility of the child witness. The admission of reports into evidence is in the sound discretion of the Court. They must be relevant evidence.
    Answer Applies to: Wyoming
    Replied: 12/1/2011
    Furlong & Drewniak PLLC
    Furlong & Drewniak PLLC | Thaddeus Furlong, Esq.
    Nothing stops a minor from testifying, assuming they know the difference between a lie and the truth. Psych reports are subject to hearsay objection unless both sides agree to let them in. Usually better to have live expert witness testify on psych issues.
    Answer Applies to: Virginia
    Replied: 12/1/2011
    Gary Moore, Attorney at Law
    Gary Moore, Attorney at Law | Gary Moore
    Do you mean a minor defendant testifying in a jury trial? There are no jury trials in juvenile court. A jury trial means that the minor is being tried as an adult in the Criminal Part of the Superior Court of New Jersey. If there is to be a jury trial a minor defendant could so testify. On the other hand, a minor nondefendant witness could testify only if the judge were satisfied that he/she understood the mean of the witness oath and the consequencs of lying under oath.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 12/1/2011
    Law Office of Richard Southard
    Law Office of Richard Southard | Richard C Southard
    Anyone over 9 years of age can testify at trial. If they are less than 9 years of age, a hearing can be held to see if they understand the difference between telling the truth and lying. It would be impossible for any lawyer to evaluate whether they "should" testify or not without knowing the facts of the case and what the evidence involved was. Similarly, your remaining questions cannot be answered meaningfully without knowing more.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 12/1/2011
    Healan Law Offices
    Healan Law Offices | William D. Healan, III
    Both a child and a psychologist could testify in a trial.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 12/1/2011
    Meyer & Kiss, LLC | Daniel Kiss
    Usually, a minor can testify in a trial. There are some limitations if the minor is very young, or if there is a finding that they are not competent to testify. Testimony by a psychologist can be admissable to show the state of mind of the accused minor. There are other examples where this kind of testimony is admissable. This sounds like a serious case. You should contact a lawyer to provide more background information, so that you can get a more specific answer.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 12/1/2011
    Miller & Harrison, LLC
    Miller & Harrison, LLC | David Harrison
    These are very very sensitive questions that require an intimate knowledge of the facts of the case before any real answers can be given. That said, in general a person under 10 is not considered generally competent to testify unless there is a showing they know right from wrong, good from bad, etc. That often occurs in a hearing before trial. Also there is a counselor -patient privilege that normally can only be waived if the patient waives it, but there are some exceptions depending on the specific circumstances.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 12/1/2011
    Rizio & Nelson
    Rizio & Nelson | John W. Bussman
    Can he or should he? These are different questions. Yes, minors CAN testify, but the wisdom of doing so is something that should be discussed with his attorney.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/1/2011
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    Yes, but you need to consult a lawyer before making such a momentous decision.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/1/2011
    Matthew Cameron Attorney at Law
    Matthew Cameron Attorney at Law | Matt Cameron
    Yes, minor defendants have the right to testify in their own defense just as anyone else charged with a crime. I'm not sure exactly in what capacity you are asking about the testimony of a psychologist, but an expert may also be called after properly evaluating the defendant in an attempt to mitigate criminal liability, and the report may be introduced along with the expert's testimony if the proper foundation is laid.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 12/1/2011
    Law Office of Brendan M. Kelly
    Law Office of Brendan M. Kelly | Brendan M. Kelly
    A minor has a right to testify or not to testify at their own trial. For the psychologist to testify you would likely have to present the judge with some admissible theory to have them testify.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 12/1/2011
    Robert Mortland
    Robert Mortland | Law Office of Robert Mortland
    Yes. They can testify so long as they are competent.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/1/2011
    Grantland, Blodgett, Shaw & Abel
    Grantland, Blodgett, Shaw & Abel | Gregory M. Abel
    Yes, any witness with relevant testimony can testify. There is a competency threshold, usually around 8 years old but a minor can testify. Yes a psychologist can testify if the testimony is relevant. Reports from both cannot be used unless the reporter also testifies.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 12/1/2011
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