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Can Children Be Called to Provide Testimony against a Parent in a Domestic
Violence Case?

Interviewer: In New Hampshire, are minor children called upon to testify against one parent and if so, how does that work when the children are involved?

In a Divorce Case, the Courts Disapprove of Children Being Called for Testimony

David: I know in family court, when the people are divorced the court frowns upon and some judges actually don’t allow the parties to call the children to testify against the other parent.

In a Criminal Case, the Court Will Decide If the Children are Qualified to Testify

But in a criminal case setting, yes in fact the children to the extent that they are present and assuming that they’re competent and qualified to testify that judgment would be made. Yes, in fact, children can be put in that awkward position.

Interviewer: That seems to makes a bad situation worse in my opinion.

David: Trust me it is bad. I’ve done that before and gotten screamed at by the prosecutor and been frowned at by the judge, but if that’s the evidence that exists, that’s the evidence that exists.

Domestic Violence Cases Where a Child Inflicts Injury on a Parent

Interviewer: If it’s a parent-child domestic violence situation where the child is the aggressor, I assume that is a much different case than the ones we have been discussing?

In New Hampshire, the Legal Age for a Criminal Case Is 17

David: The legal age for a majority for criminal cases in New Hampshire is 17 and it could include a junior or senior in high school. I was involved with a case a number of years ago where the highest school student was out of control and was very disrespectful to the mother and actually doing the things that theoretically are criminal, such as breaking objects in the house.

The student was warned by the parents, “You do this one more time and we’re calling the police.” There was another incident and the police arrived. The parents thought that the police would just show up and scold the kid and that would be that, right?

17-Year-Old Boys or Girls Can Be Subject to a No-Contact Order

Interviewer: They just wanted to scare him a little bit.

David: According to the domestic violence protocol, a mandatory arrest is required if they have probable cause to believe that the crime of domestic violence has occurred. So, a 17-year-old student was arrested and then is court ordered by the bail commissioner not to have contact with the mother and not to go home.

Interviewer: Where is a 17-year-old going to go in that case?

David: No, I was in court the next morning on the student’s behalf. The case was quickly resolved and the student was not convicted.