What brought about the recent changes in how California handles these cases?
James Knox: I don’t know if it was recent. I would point to – it’s almost 20 years ago now, probably is exactly 20 years ago – the O.J. Simpson case.
That case changed everything as far as the laws that were in place regarding domestic cases here. In the past, prior to O.J. Simpson 20 years ago, if you had an instance where there was a domestic violence criminal case, if the alleged victim didn’t come forward to testify at the trial, most of the time the cases would be dismissed. After O.J. Simpson, the legislature changed the law to allow the victim’s statement to the police officers to be read into evidence. And that’s unprecedented. You normally have this right to confront and cross-examine the other party.
But in California after O.J. Simpson, if you had a missing witness or a witness who all of a sudden changed their mind and said they didn’t want to testify against the accuser, the statement that they made to the police officer can then come into evidence. And I think after that, so about 1994, 1995, just shortly before I became an attorney, that’s really where we saw the big changes in the law. And then after that, we’ve just seen incremental changes that have strengthened those laws and, again, made these domestic cases, again, very difficult.
Stephen Levine, is a Board Certified Specialist in Criminal Defense — an honor achieved by only the top criminal law attorneys in California. Mr. Levine has over 40 years of experience in criminal defense and family law serving Southern California, and is a highly regarded Super Lawyer as well as AV Rated attorney.