Testimonial competence involves the competence to testify under oath. Individuals are deemed competent to testify if they understand the oath and the responsibility to tell the truth (see Levesque 2006). Competence also means that they must possess the ability to perceive accurately an event, remember it accurately, and communicate it accurately. Importantly, for competency, there is no concern about the witnesses’ credibility; credibility is an issue for juries/judges (whomever serves as the “trier of facts”) to determine and weigh in their evaluation of trial evidence (see Levesque 2002, 2006). Although these issues would seem quite straightforward, they actually have been the subject of debate and reform that responded to the understanding of children and adolescents as well as other legal developments, as exemplified by recent legislative and judicial developments in US law.
Until approximately 4 decades ago, the United States was markedly diverse in its approaches to the...
- Child Victims’ and Child Witnesses’ Rights Act. (2009). United Sates Code Service, title 18, § 3509.Google Scholar
- Crawford v. Washington. (2004). 541 U.S. 36.Google Scholar
- Federal Rules of Evidence (2010). United States Code Service. Article VI.Google Scholar
- Levesque, R. J. R. (2002). Child maltreatment and the law: Foundations in science, policy and practice. Durham: Carolina Academic Press.Google Scholar
- Levesque, R. J. R. (2006). The psychology and law of criminal justice processes. Hauppauge: Nova.Google Scholar
- Prince, J. D. (2004). Competency and credibility: Double trouble for child victims of sexual offenses. Suffolk Journal of Trial & Appellate Advocacy, 9, 113–128.Google Scholar
- Wheeler v. United States. (1895). 159 U.S. 523.Google Scholar