The Washington Legislature has authorized children to testify by closed-circuit television in circumstances not previously allowed.
When a court authorizes this procedure, a child witness testifies at a criminal trial without coming into the same room as the defendant. The defendant instead watches the child’s testimony on closed-circuit TV. The purpose of the procedure is to get testimony about child abuse from children who otherwise would be too distraught to provide it. Courts have ruled the procedure does not violate a defendant’s constitutional right to confront his accuser.
Until this August, the procedure could be employed in Washington only for children younger than ten. The new legislation increases the age limit to fourteen. It also adds two new types of case in which the procedure may be used: human trafficking and sexual exploitation of children.
The revised law can be found at Revised Code of Washington section 9A.44.150.