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The definition of Testimonial changed from Crawford to Davis to Hammon. In Crawford, the definition applies to “prior testimony at a preliminary hearing, before a grand jury or at a former trial; and to police interrogations.” Crawford, 541 S.Ct 1374. The court used the dictionary term of the word which is a “solemn declaration or affirmation made for the purpose of establishing or proving some fact.” Id at 1354. The court did not directly define the meaning of a testimonial statement. The court initially left it up to the lower courts to define the term. The court said that they will “leave for another day any effort to spell out a comprehensive definition of testimonial.” Id at 1374.
In Davis and Hammon, the court said that statements that would cause the declarant to be a witness could fit under testimonials. In Davis, the court specified that when a statement is given to authorities in order to meet an “ongoing emergency” the individual giving the statement is not a witness. Davis and Hammon, 126 S.Ct 813, 827. Thus the statement would not be considered testimonial. If the statements go beyond merely assisting the authorities and more toward solving a past crime, then the statements are considered testimonial. The statements in Davis were considered nontestimonial because the 911 call was during an emergency.
In Hammon, the statements were made during an interrogation in which the police officer separated and questioned the alleged victim about a past incident. The court determined that when the officer questioned the alleged victim and was seeking to find out “what happened,” the reply statements were testimonial. Hammon v. Indiana 126 S.Ct 813, 830 (2006). The court also said that a Miranda warning is not required in order for statements to be testimonial. Finally, the court acknowledged that if the defendant undermines “the judicial process by procuring or coercing silence from witnesses and victims, the Sixth Amendment does not require courts to acquiesce.” Hammon, 126 S. Ct. 2280.
If you have questions about a testimonial statement contact San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney Vik Monder at 619.405.0063 or visit Criminal Defense Testimonial Attorney