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Videotaped Interview, § 908.08(3) — Satisfying Requirement Child Understands “False Statements Are Punishable”

State v. Jimmie R.R., 2000 WI App 5, 232 Wis.2d 138, 606 N.W.2d 196
For Jimmie R.R.: Martha K. Askins, SPD, Madison Appellate

Issue: Whether the state sufficiently showed that the child understood that false statements were punishable so as to justify admissibility of her videotaped interview under § 908.08(3).

Holding: The admissibility statute, § 908.08(3), was satisfied, even though compliance wasn’t express.

Defendant argues that the state failed to establish a threshold requirement imposed for admissibility of a videotaped statement by a child under § 908.08(3), namely that the child understand that “false statements are punishable.” Because “the only evidence on this question is the videotape itself,” the court of appeals is as capable of reaching a conclusion as the trial court, and review is de novo. ¶39. The court agrees that the child must know “that there are consequences in failing to tell the truth.” This requirement was satisfied, despite the lack of the express words found in the statute, largely because the child was informed that it was important to tell the truth. ¶40-45. In any event, “the videotape was, in effect, duplicative,” and its admission in evidence therefore harmless. ¶49.

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