Florida Laws On Child Hearsay Statements
Court cases involving children are extremely emotional. Sometimes court cases are brought about because of something a child said to a parent or another trusted adult. Other times, a statement from a child is used as evidence against an adult in a court case. Any statement from a child, however, becomes questionable when it was said off the record or was not recorded.
If you’re involved in a court case regarding a child or one that relies on statements from children, it’s imperative to understand what Florida law says regarding child hearsay statements. Here, we will discuss what hearsay statements are and how they can be used in a Florida case.
By definition, a child hearsay statement is one made by a child off the record, meaning it was not recorded by an audio recording device or written down as an official statement. Examples of child hearsay situations include:
- A child telling an adult that another adult touched them inappropriately
- A child telling their teacher that they were at home alone
- A child telling one parent that the other said something incriminating
When a prosecutor gets wind of a child hearsay statement that might support their case, they will often do everything in their power to use it in court. There are laws, however, that dictate when a child hearsay statement can be used and when it must be dismissed.
Multiple factors are considered when a child hearsay statement is brought into question. Those considerations can include:
- The child’s age
- The child’s maturity level
- and the circumstances involved.
The court will also consider the time of the statement as well as the relationship of the person the child is making a statement against. The most common instances where child hearsay statements are allowed include:
- Child abuse cases
- Sexual abuse cases
- Neglect cases
Many parents attempt to use child hearsay statements against the other parent in divorce cases. Although a child’s hearsay statement may be valid, it’s not common for them to be used in divorce cases.
To use a child hearsay statement as part of a prosecution or defense, there is a series of criteria that must be checked. According to Florida Statute § 90.803(23)(a)(1), before a statement can be used it must:
- Be proven that the time, content and circumstances of the statement were reliable
- There is corroborative evidence of the claim this statement supports
To deem a statement made by a child as valid, the court will conduct a hearing outside of the courtroom and away from a jury. If the statement of the child stays the same in this setting as in the courtroom, it will often be considered valid. If the child makes varying statements, however, the statement in question will likely be thrown out and deemed an unreliable source of evidence.
If you’re going through a difficult criminal case involving children or your child has presented evidence to you regarding a crime, it’s time to contact a trusted attorney. In Orlando, The Umansky Law Firm is a source of knowledgeable attorneys who can help you win the justice you deserve. They will work hard to help you understand the court process and get to know your case individually.
The Umansky Law Firm is highly rated on Avvo.com and has been named among Florida’s Legal Elite. They have won thousands of cases for individuals across Central Florida and want to help you too. At The Umansky Law Firm, we believe your life shouldn’t be defined by a single mistake. To schedule a free consultation, contact us online or call 407-228-3838 today.