Child Sexual Abuse Trials

The use of closed-circuit television in New York State

The Division of Criminal Justice Services has available three Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) systems for courtroom use. This equipment, which was purchased with federal grant funds, is intended for use in cases in which the court has issued an order declaring a child witness 'vulnerable' under CPL 65.10. The equipment may be loaned to a district attorney, or defense counsel, for the purpose of transmitting the testimony of such a child.

This service is provided on a first-come, first-served basis, and at no costs to the court, prosecution or defense.

Requestors may access equipment and support services by contacting:

New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services
Office of Program Development and Funding
Alfred E. Smith Building
80 South Swan St.
Albany, New York 12210
(518) 457-9787

Q&A:

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Q: In what types of criminal cases can closed-circuit television be used?

A: The law permits the use of closed-circuit television in any criminal proceeding that involves a vulnerable child witness under the age of thirteen, in a case pertaining to criminal sexual assault or incest.

Q: What is "live two-way closed-circuit television?"

A: "Live two-way closed-circuit television" is a simultaneous transmission by closed-circuit television, or other electronic menas, between the courtroom and a separate testimonial room in accordance with the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Law.

Q: Have there been any cases in which closed-circuit television has been used in New York to date?

A: Yes. The statute has been successfully invoked and closed-circuit testimony taken in a number of cases.

Q: What steps must be taken in order to use closed-circuit television?

A: New York State Criminal Procedure Law provides that the prosecution or defense may ask the court for an order allowing the use of closed-circuit television/ The requesting party should contact the Division of Criminal Justice Services to request technical support servies, should the court permit the use of closed-circuit television.

Q: How is the defendant's constitutional right to confront his or her accuser assured?

A: The statute requires that the child be subject to direct- as well as cross-examination. The defendant's constitutional right is preserved through the use of live closed-circuit television to allow both visual and auditory questioning.

Q: Who is permitted to be with the child while he or she testifies?

A: Although the statute does not specifically provide for the presence of others with the child during testimony, the court has certain discretionary powers to control who may be permitted in the testimonial room with the vulnerable child witness.

Q: How far in advance should these arrangements be made?

A: The statute requires that the party seeking the order from the court allowing the use of closed-circuit television apply at least eight days in advance of the trial or other criminal proceeding. It is importnat, however, to contact the Division of Criminal Justice Services as soon as the possibility arises that closed-circuit television equipment may be needed, even if a formal request has not yet been made to the court. The Division of Criminal Justice Services needs as much advance notice as possible in otder to schedule the use of the equipment.

Testimonials

“The child was able to testify via closed circuit television and did so without the fear that was instilled by being face to face with defendandt. With the assistance of the closed-circuit television system we were able to secure a conviction and with it a lengthy state prison term for defendant.”

Michael A. Korchak
Senior Assistant District Attorney
Broome County

“The procedure has proven effective for this office. I would recommend the procedure to anyone with a particularly sensitive or fragile child victim. This procedure greatly reduces the trauma of the event. The technology is state of the art and has performed above my expectations.”

Jon E. Budelmann
Chief Assistant District Attorney
Cayuga County

“The little girl testified via closed-circuit television outside the presence of the defendant. And, the defendant was convicted. The closed-circuit television capability now available to the court works! Without it, that child witness would never have testified.”

The Hon. Martin E. Smith
Broome County Court Judge

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