Switch to ADA Accessible Theme
Close Menu
Orlando Criminal Defense Lawyer > Blog > Juvenile Crime > How a “Silent Witness” Can Testify Against You in Court

How a “Silent Witness” Can Testify Against You in Court


Florida police and prosecutors often rely on surveillance camera footage to try and prove a suspect’s guilt. Of course, in this age of digital photography–not to mention newer technologies such as generative artificial intelligence–how can a judge or jury know that an image offered into evidence is real? This is a special concern when, as is often the case, there is no human witness who can directly attest to the image’s authenticity.

Juvenile Home Surveillance Video Sufficient to Find Resident Delinquent in Battery Case

Florida courts have long relied on the “silent witness” rule in handling these types of issues. As the Florida Third District Court of Appeal explained in a recent decision, R.V. v. State, a party offering photographic evidence can present a “sponsoring witness” to testify that the image is a “fair and accurate representation” of the subject matter depicted. Alternatively, the trial court can use the silent witness method, which merely requires a “showing of the reliability of the production process.”

In the R.V. for example, a trial court relied on the silent witness method to admit a key piece of evidence against an accused juvenile offender. The juvenile, who was 17 years old at the time of arrest, lived in a group home for abused and neglected children. A witness saw the juvenile punch another resident.

Law enforcement arrived at the scene. An employee of the group home furnished the officers with surveillance video footage purporting to depict the punching. The state then filed a delinquency petition charging the juvenile with simple battery.

The alleged victim did not appear at the juvenile’s adjudicatory hearing (non-jury trial). The state submitted the surveillance video footage instead. The group home employee who retrieved the video and the officer who responded at the scene both testified that the video was authentic.

The court found the juvenile delinquent. On appeal, he challenged the trial court’s decision to accept the surveillance video into evidence. The Third District, however, upheld the trial court’s ruling and the finding of delinquency. The appellate court explained this was a valid use of the silent witness method. In particular, the court cited the group home’s employee “signature on the compact disc containing the video” and the lack of any evidence of any “editing or tampering” with the recording. This, plus additional “circumstantial evidence,” was sufficient to authenticate the evidence. So even without the victim’s direct testimony, the recording provided enough evidence to find the juvenile delinquent.

Contact the Joshi Law Firm Today

Even in adult court, simple batter is classified as a misdemeanor. This can still carry a potential jail sentence of up to 1 year, along with another year of supervised probation and a $1,000 fine. So you should not be quick to dismiss such a charge. Instead, you should work with a qualified Orlando juvenile crime attorney who can advise you of your rights and serve as your advocate in court. Contact the Joshi Law Firm, PA, today to schedule a free consultation.



Facebook Twitter LinkedIn