my granddaughter was sexually molested by three boys aging from 17 to 19. can she be forced to testify against them ?

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my granddaughter was sexually molested by three boys aging from 17 to 19. can she be forced to testify against them ?

Asked on May 1, 2009 under Criminal Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

B. B., Member, New Jersey Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

It is very rare that any crime victim is forced to testify in a criminal trial.  It is possible, under the law, for your granddaughter to be forced to attend the trial and take the stand, and if she lies under oath she can be prosecuted for perjury.  But perjury is hard to prove, especially when a witness no longer remembers the events well.

Most prosecutors, especially in sexual assault cases, will not force a victim to testify.  They may threaten to do just that, and do whatever they can to persuade her to testify, but they know that a witness who does not want to be a witness is often not much use.

Some states have adopted laws or court rules that give some protection to victims of sex crimes, like your granddaughter, to keep the defendants' lawyers from prying into all parts of the victim's life.  You have not told us exactly why your granddaughter does not want to testify -- or your reasons, if it is your decision.  Her age is also something that has to be taken into account.

You can get a more complete and detailed answer to your questions from a local criminal lawyer.  You can find one at http://attorneypages.com


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