For victims of a sex crimes, going through the criminal justice system and facing their alleged abuser, can expose them to unwanted feelings that would make them very uncomfortable. This is especially true of child victims. child endangerment In order to help alleviate some of the uncomfortable feelings a child might feel when facing their alleged abuser, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania will under very specific circumstances allow a child to make statements about the alleged that are outside of the courtroom. This process of having a child make statements that are outside the courtroom is known as the "Tender Years exception to the hearsay rule." First and foremost, it is on the Commonwealth to prove that this exception is even a possibility. It is also important to note that the tender years exception must be used for children under the age of 12 and if the child is cannot testify about the statements in the courtroom, then they cannot be used as a witness at all.
The tender crimes exception applies due to the fact that these statements in sex crimes cases are made outside of a courtroom in a setting that would otherwise deem it to just be hearsay, the courts must determine the reliability of the statements. aggravated indecent assault In order to do this, past courts have a made a standard that they apply. The statement that is introduced must have "particularized guarantees of trustworthiness". Because there is no real way of determining this, the courts instead look at the totality of the circumstances that are around the statements that are made. The court uses these factors that guide them in making a determination: whether the statements were spontaneous, whether the statements were consistent, the mental state of the child when they were giving the statement, whether the child used terminology that is unexpected for a child that age, and whether the child lacked a motive to fabricate the statement. As mentioned previously, if the court accepts the Commonwealth's motion to use the tender years exception, if the child is too overwhelmed or if for any reason cannot testify about the statements that were made they become unavailable as a witness for the Commonwealth.