PRE-TRIAL MOTIONS (at your desk) 

Tips for working with child victims with developmental disabilities

Determine what protections by your state that are afforded to individuals with disabilities in a courtroom. It is the responsibility of the prosecutor to assure these protections are secured. The following are “Reasonable Accommodation” motions that can be made for Victims with disabilities:

► Videotape of preliminary hearing: Allowing for the videotaping of a victim’s testimony at preliminary hearings in sexual assault or child abuse cases. At the time of trial, if the court finds that further testimony by the Victim would be too traumatic, the videotape can be admitted at trial without the Victim testifying.

► Closed Circuit TV: Allowing for the use of closed circuit TV in sexual assault or child abuse cases, if the court finds that the impact on the Victim would be so substantial as to render the Victim unavailable if he/she testifies. Certain factors must exist for this section to apply.

► Use of Support Person: In sexual assault and child abuse cases, a person with a disability is entitled to utilize a person necessary to facilitate the communication or support the physical needs of the person with the disability.

► Courtroom accommodations: In order to accommodate victims with disabilities in sexual assault and child abuse cases, the court can:

     o take more frequent reasonable breaks

     o have the judge remove his/her robe

     o relocate the parties in the courtroom to make the environment more comfortable         for the Victim.

► Testimonial accommodations: Permitting the court to take special care to protect a witness with a substantial cognitive impairment from undue harassment or embarrassment. This includes ensuring that questions are stated in a form that is appropriate to the age or cognitive level of the witness. Allowing the court to permit leading questions of an individual with a severe cognitive impairment in specified cases of abuse.

Schubert, A.M., Svare, T.D., Laurino, R.D., & Wheeler, B. (2007). Effective prosecution of cases involving victims with developmental  disabilities: A protocol for investigators and prosecutors. California: University of Southern California. Retrieved from: