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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 26772
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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What can you tell me about the right to face your accuser at

Customer Question

What can you tell me about the right to face your accuser at trial? What scenario can you give where an accusor need not show up (other than murder)? I'm worried about self incrimination on this website based on previous q&a's as nothing is confidential here.
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 6 years ago.



In terms of self-incrimination, if you don't use personal names or specific identifying information, you should be fine.


I want to look over your other threads before answering this question, and i have some errands that have to be run. I'll get back to you in a couple of hours.

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
thank you
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 6 years ago.

On a case like the one you are talking about, where there is an alleged victim but no witnesses, the state will not be able to make out its case without the complaining witness. Hearsay testimony is not allowed at trial.

The state is expected to have control over its witnesses before they can state that they are ready. That means that they have had recent contact with the complainant, know her whereabouts, and can bring her in if necessary by making a phone call. If the People do not have a complainant that they can bring in at a moment's notice (if they are unable to state "Ready for Trial," time gets charged against the DA's Office. On a felony, once the DA has accrued 6 months of chargeable time (doesn't have to be 6 consecutive months but can be pieced together), the defense lawyer can move for speedy trial dismissal.

So you get your right to confront the witness. The DA is required by state law to make "vigorous efforts" to get their complainant in, before a court would accept that the witness is unavailable. If the court determines that a witness is unavailable, the time needed until the witness becomes available would not count towards the 6 months.

I had cases where the witness just hid from the DA rather than cooperate, and they have had to be dismissed. I had a trial case once where the DA had to fly him over from another country to prevent time being charged to them.

The right of a defendant to face his accuser and his right to a speedy trial are taken seriously in the state.
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Customer: replied 6 years ago.
and if they have a witness to the alleged offense?
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 6 years ago.
The DA could potentially go forward with a witness who saw what happened. But it's likely that they wouldn't. A jury would certainly wonder why the complainant wouldn't bother and the defense could possibly even get a "missing witness charge" read to the jury, which would be favorable to the defense.