Ohio Sex crimes Attorney Brian Joslyn explains child interviews in sex crime cases involving minors. If you or a loved one has been accused of a crime or arrested in Ohio, please call Joslyn Criminal Defense Law Firm at (614) 444-1900 to request a free and confidential consultation to discuss your case with our attorneys.
As a very experienced sex crime attorney, I would tell you, that the first thing we need to do is understand exactly what you’re being accused of. Our job, in cases that involve false allegations, is to discredit the accuser. If it’s a child, they’re taken to a forensic phycologist, they’re brought into what’s called a CAC interview. They’re sat down privately, no one else is in the room except for the interviewer. Generally speaking, they do a pretty good job at these interviews. What I look for in these interviews is whether the interviewer is leading the child. This is common for detectives to do. As an example, “he put his finger in you then, right?” and it’s easy for a child to say yes. Where the question should be open-ended, “what happened next?” someone that’s looking for a fair, imperial interview to make sure we’re getting the truth of a matter and not guiding an investigation like many detectives do. These forensic interviewers typically won’t do that. But it does happen, and you need to make sure that you’re watching these videos to make sure they’re not being led. But most of the time they start with warm-up questions as to where they go to school, what type of things do they like, just so the interviewer can warm them up. And if the interviewer is doing a good job, they’re gonna ask them, “do you know why you’re here today?”. They’re never going to ask them a sexually specific question. Everything will be open-handed and in the format of what happened next, what happened then, and where is that if you’re talking about a body part. You’re never helping a child lead a statement. And that can taint an investigation, and when they do taint an investigation, it’s my job to point those out, if we were in the event to have a trial. But most of the child interviews are done fairly professionally. A lot of mistakes that attorneys make, is they only read the written narrative. These child interviews are almost always video recorded, but they write a synopsis of the interview. But the person writing the synopsis of the interview is usually a detective. And when the detectives write the narratives, they don’t always necessarily place the appropriate context of what the child actually said. Bad attorneys, attorneys that don’t know what they’re doing, will rely upon the written reports of detectives that are describing the interview that took place. You need to watch the interview yourself. Now some counties don’t provide the video to your attorney. That doesn’t mean you can’t view it. A lot of this material is protected material because it involves a juvenile. So you’ll have to, in most cases, go to a prosecutor’s office to do an in officer inspection of the video. And most officers don’t have a problem with you, you know, watching the video in their office. Of course, it’s evidence, they’re intending to use that evidence against your client. Under discovery rule 16F you’re entitled to see this material. There are circumstances when we know we’re going to trial where we compel them to turn the disk over to us, so we can appropriately prep for trial. But initially, we just want to see the disclosure and evaluate it. My gauge and view on many child cases depends on what I see in these videos.