Despite the fact that children are typically recognized for their honesty, sometimes young children make false statements or claims either unknowingly or in an attempt to please an authority figure, such as a parent. If you're facing criminal charges due to a false or misleading statement made by a child, you may have the right to request a taint hearing. Here's a look at what you should know about taint hearings and false statements made by minors.
What Exactly Is A Taint Hearing?
A taint hearing is a process that involves having a forensic psychologist evaluate the transcripts and evidence from the case, looking for any potential evidence that the child's statement was either falsified or otherwise affected. After the evaluation, the psychologist will testify before the court as to his or her findings, including any evidence of falsification.
Why Would A Child's Statement Be Tainted?
There are many ways that a child's statement about an incident can be tainted. Since children often repress memories about traumatic events, sometimes their recollection of an event can be directly affected by the way that they are questioned about it. For example, clear, open-ended statements like "Tell me about what you remember," will often yield different results than leading questions such as "Is that when you were hit," or "When they touched you…" without the child already offering that he or she was hit or touched.
Another thing that can taint a child's statement is the words of loved ones. Especially in cases where the accused is familiar to the child, his or her recollection could be directly affected by overhearing conversation from a primary caregiver. For example, if a child hears their mother telling someone how much she dislikes or distrusts the child's father, that can lead the child to believe that his or her father is a bad person and therefore should be distrusted. This can lead the child to view any events or occurrences from the perspective that the individual in question is a bad person, and therefore the things he or she did must also be bad.
What Happens If The Child's Statement Is Found To Be Tainted?
If a forensic psychologist can find clear evidence that the child's statement was tainted, that can be sufficient for having the charges dismissed if there's no other evidence in the case. Your criminal defense lawyer can help you look at the rest of the case to determine if a taint hearing may be a good option for you.