2019 Georgia Code
Title 17 - Criminal Procedure
Chapter 8 - Trial
Article 3 - Conduct of Proceedings
§ 17-8-55. Testimony of child less than seventeen years old outside physical presence of accused

Universal Citation: GA Code § 17-8-55 (2019)
  • (a) As used in this Code section, the term "child" means an individual who is under 17 years of age.

  • (b) This Code section shall apply to all proceedings when a child is a witness to or an alleged victim of a violation of Code Section 16-5-1, 16-5-20, 16-5-23, 16-5-23.1, 16-5-40, 16-5-70, 16-5-90, 16-5-95, 16-6-1, 16-6-2, 16-6-3, 16-6-4, 16-6-5, 16-6-5.1, 16-6-11, 16-6-22, 16-6-22.1, 16-6-22.2, 16-8-41, or 16-15-4.

  • (c) The court, upon the motion of the prosecuting attorney or the parent, legal guardian, or custodian of a child, or on its own motion, shall hold an evidentiary hearing to determine whether a child shall testify outside the physical presence of the accused. Such motion shall be filed, or requested by the court, at least ten days prior to trial unless the court shortens such time period for good cause, as it deems just under the circumstances.

  • (d) The court may order a child to testify outside the physical presence of the accused, provided that the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that such child is likely to suffer serious psychological or emotional distress or trauma which impairs such child's ability to communicate as a result of testifying in the presence of the accused. In determining whether a preponderance of the evidence has been shown, the court may consider any one or more of the following circumstances:

    • (1) The manner of the commission of the offense being particularly heinous or characterized by aggravating circumstances;

    • (2) The child's age or susceptibility to psychological or emotional distress or trauma on account of a physical or mental condition which existed before the alleged commission of the offense;

    • (3) At the time of the alleged offense, the accused was:

      • (A) The parent, guardian, legal custodian, or other person responsible for the custody or care of the child at the relevant time; or

      • (B) A person who maintains or maintained an ongoing personal relationship with such child's parent, guardian, legal custodian, or other person responsible for the custody or care of the child at the relevant time and the relationship involved the person living in or frequent and repeated presence in the same household or premises as the child;

    • (4) The alleged offense was part of an ongoing course of conduct committed by the accused against the child over an extended period of time;

    • (5) A deadly weapon or dangerous instrument was used during the commission of the alleged offense;

    • (6) The accused has inflicted serious physical injury upon the child;

    • (7) A threat, express or implied, of physical violence to the child or a third person if the child were to report the incident to any person or communicate information to or cooperate with a court, grand jury, prosecutor, police officer, or law enforcement office concerning the incident has been made by or on behalf of the accused;

    • (8) A threat, express or implied, of the incarceration of a parent, relative, or guardian of the child, the removal of the child from the family, or the dissolution of the family of the child if the child were to report the incident to any person or communicate information to or cooperate with a court, grand jury, prosecutor, police officer, or law enforcement office concerning the incident has been made by or on behalf of the accused;

    • (9) A witness other than the child has received a threat of physical violence directed at such witness or to a third person by or on behalf of the accused, and the child is aware of such threat;

    • (10) The accused, at the time of the inquiry:

      • (A) Is living in the same household with the child;

      • (B) Has ready access to the child; or

      • (C) Is providing substantial financial support for the child; or

    • (11) According to expert testimony, the child would be particularly susceptible to psychological or emotional distress or trauma if required to testify in open court in the physical presence of the accused.

  • (e) A court order allowing or not allowing a child to testify outside the physical presence of the accused shall state the findings of fact and conclusions of law that support the court's determination. An order allowing the use of such testimony shall:

    • (1) State the method by which such child shall testify;

    • (2) List any individual or category of individuals allowed to be in the presence of such child during such testimony, including the individuals the court finds contribute to the welfare and well-being of the child during his or her testimony;

    • (3) State any special conditions necessary to facilitate the cross-examination of such child;

    • (4) State any condition or limitation upon the participation of individuals in the child's presence during such child's testimony;

    • (5) Provide that the accused shall not be permitted to be in the physical presence of a child during his or her testimony if the accused is pro se;

    • (6) Provide that if counsel for the accused or the accused is precluded from being physically present during the child's testimony, then the prosecuting attorney shall likewise be precluded from being physically present; and

    • (7) State any other condition necessary for taking or presenting such testimony.

  • (f) The method used for allowing a child to testify outside the physical presence of the accused shall allow the judge, jury, and accused to observe the demeanor of the child as if he or she were testifying in the courtroom. When such testimony occurs it shall be transmitted to the courtroom by any device or combination of devices capable of projecting a live visual and oral transmission, including, but not limited to, a two-way closed circuit television broadcast, an Internet broadcast, or other simultaneous electronic means. The court shall ensure that:

    • (1) The transmitting equipment is capable of making an accurate transmission and is operated by a competent operator;

    • (2) The transmission is in color and the child is visible at all times;

    • (3) Every voice on the transmission is audible and identified;

    • (4) The courtroom is equipped with monitors which permit the jury, the accused, and others present in the courtroom to see and hear the transmission; and

    • (5) The image and voice of the child, as well as the image of all other persons other than the operator present in the testimonial room, are transmitted live.

History:

Code 1981, § 17-8-55, enacted by Ga. L. 2014, p. 205, § 1/HB 804; Ga. L. 2019, p. 74, § 2-6/SB 158.

Disclaimer: These codes may not be the most recent version. Georgia may have more current or accurate information. We make no warranties or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained on this site or the information linked to on the state site. Please check official sources.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.