Competency and Taint Hearings

What is a Taint Hearing?

Young children are naive, suggestible and eager to please. When a parent, teacher, police officer or social worker asks leading questions, children understand that certain answers will please the questioner, and they comply.

"Daddy touched you in a bad place, didn't he?"

Young children are also psychologically vulnerable. An authority figure with a conviction-driven agenda can coerce a child to making statements that are not true. When these questions and answers are repeated again and again, they become embedded in the child's memory. The child comes to believe that these falsehoods are, in fact, true. The child will then learn to repeat them in a very convincing way.

"Daddy hurt you, didn't he?"

We understand how a child's memory and his or her testimony can be tainted by repeated interrogation and coaching from parents, social workers, psychologists and law enforcement. Tom has raised these issues in cases involving young children who have made accusations of sexual abuse.

In 1994, the New Jersey Supreme Court decided State v. Michaels.

That opinion established a procedure permitting defense attorneys to request a pretrial "taint" hearing to challenge the children's investigative interviews. The taint hearing has since spread to other states. However, it has not yet been accepted in all states.

Tom routinely requests a taint hearing to challenge the reliability of evidence obtained in suggestive or coercive interviews with children. He fights to persuade trial judges that information obtained in these interviews is tainted and, therefore, inadmissible in court. He has also raised this issue at the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

He and Mark Mack prevailed before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on a child abuse conviction involving issues of competency and taint as matters of first impression. See Com. v. Delbridge, 885 A.2d 27 (Pa.2003).

We Know How to Help

Tom Pavlinic and each lawyer affiliated with Premier Defense Group has extensive experience in defending against child sex abuse and other sex crimes charges. They are seasoned veterans of the courtroom with the ability to go to trial and present an aggressive, cogent defense, whenever and wherever the case demands.

They analyze the evidence, follow the rules of evidence and procedure and work together as a team, capitalizing on each attorney's strengths so that you receive the most competent representation possible. This pool of dedicated legal talent is derived from jurisdictions across the country, not just from a single geographic area.

Contact Us Now

Do not hesitate to contact us if you or one of your loved ones could even possibly be facing child sex abuse or other sex crimes charges. We're here to help, but we can only do so if you will let us. Don't make the huge, regrettable mistake of acting without legal representation, the most foolish course of action when dealing with the criminal justice system. Due to the high stakes associated with these types of crimes, as well as the unique defense strategies required to win such cases, it is essential for you to hire an attorney with special experience.

Acting promptly and aggressively is the key to protecting your freedom and ultimate well being. Call us at (800) 993-0632 . We're here for you 24 hours a day. We know how important your case is, and we want to protect you from the very outset.