One of the basic assumptions about law and the justice system in the United States is that if you are tried for a crime, you have a right to face your accuser, and through your defense attorney, you have a right to cross-examine them and the statements and claims they make in court.
The Supreme Court has affirmed this in several cases. Perhaps, one of the most famous instances is the 2004 case, Crawford v. Washington, where the Court held that a person providing testimony has to be in the courtroom and actually testify and be available for cross-examination.
How Does This Work with Business Records?
Since, the First Circuit Court clarified the Crawford ruling and holds, generally, business records are not automatically excluded because they are testimony which cannot be cross examined.
Therefore, what makes one document a business record and not subject to cross-examination and challenge in court? What kinds of documents should be classified outside of “business records” and therefore subject to challenge under Crawford?
Its questions like these that show how law can get sticky. These also highlight the importance of retaining an experienced litigator when you are faced with complex criminal challenges.
What Are Business Records?
The government has tried to argue forensic lab results are routine “business records”, such as a phone bill or other generated invoice, and should be excluded from challenge and examination by defense attorneys.
While the Court is never usually sympathetic to that argument, it is still very important you have an experienced defense attorney at your side to argue for your rights.
So, Can Business Records Be Testimonial?
Yes. When documents such as business records are ruled to be “testimonial”, it means that in order for the government to bring them against you in court, those documents must be presented to the court through a live representative witness. This person has the ability testify as to the content of the record and be subject to cross-examination by a defense attorney.
Are You Facing Related Charges?
As you can see, this is a complex matter and it is important that you are represented by a defense attorney with the experience to challenge any documents submitted by the prosecutor to the court. Do not let what you do not understand be used against you. Do not let evidence you cannot challenge be used against you without a fight. Premier Federal Criminal Defenders can spot weaknesses in the prosecutors’ case, no matter how complex the charges might be. Call us today at 1-800-455-6200 for a free case consultation.