You might be wondering “how is it possible that you or a loved one could be convicted of a crime such as a robbery, even when the witness who said you confessed to the crime doesn’t testify at your trial?” When you go to law school one of the first things you learn is that a person accused of a crime has the constitutional right to confront his/her accuser. However, that is not always the case.
Gibbs vs. Covello
In the recent case of Gibbs vs. Covello, the United States District Court for the Central District of California held that the conviction of Mr. Covello would stand even though the US Attorney failed to call the witness at the trial who said that the accused had confessed to the crime. The court ruled in this manner because the witness had come to court to testify at the preliminary hearing. When the witness did not appear at trial, the judge found that the witness was “unavailable.” The court did so because the witness refused to testify at trial claiming that his testimony would “incriminate him”. This meant that the lawyer for the accused did not have the right to question this witness when the jury was present. However, the court allowed the US Attorney to read the testimony that the witness had given at the preliminary hearing to the jury.
The lawyer for the accused argued that this was a violation of his constitutional right to cross-examine all witnesses. The court concluded that since the witness had testified at the preliminary hearing and had been “cross-examined” by the lawyer for the accused, that action alone satisfied the defendant’s constitutional right to confront the witness against him.
The defendant was ultimately convicted of murder and was sentenced to federal prison.
Contact An Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Today
If you have been convicted of a serious felony, it is imperative that you contact an experienced Wallin & Klarich attorney today. With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, West Covina, Torrance, Los Angeles, and San Diego, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense lawyer available near you who can aggressively defend you from criminal charges and do all we can to keep you free of custody. Please contact us at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (714)587-4068 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.