RI Supreme Court Upholds Domestic Violence Conviction

The RI Supreme Court has upheld a conviction even though the alleged victim changed her testimony.  Acting Chief Justice Goldberg recognized that the Court was “confronted with yet another victim of domestic violence who, after her abuser was arrested and charged with a felony, changed her story and gave markedly different testimony at trial to protect her abuser.”

The SC held that a jury could rightfully base their decision on prior testimony given at the time of the incident so long as there is other evidence to support a finding that a crime was committed.

Based on an understanding of human psychology, this is the proper decision.  One could argue that the jury is hearing direct testimony from the alleged victim that is contrary to a finding that a crime occurred, and therefore should find the defendant not guilty.  On the other hand, there are volumes of text showing that victims of domestic violence will often protect their accusers, and therefore, the trial testimony should not be given any credibility.  If the jury decides, based on this latter point, that the testimony given to police on the night of the arrest is more credible than the testimony given at trial, then it is appropriate for the SC to uphold the conviction.