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Closed-Circuit Television

During court hearings, the risk of victim intimidation by assailants may be great. In some cases, typically those involving children, courts allow the use of video or closed-circuit television. For example, closed-circuit television has been used when—

  • Children refuse to testify in court despite judicial requests to do so.
  • Children have a substantial inability to communicate to others about the offense.
  • There is a substantial likelihood, based on expert opinion testimony, that a child will suffer severe emotional trauma from testifying in court.

Virginia Code ยง 18.2–67.9 allows the Commonwealth or the defendant to apply for an order from the court that the testimony of the alleged victim be taken in a room outside the courtroom and be televised by two-way closed-circuit television. Recognizing that few courts have access to this technology or the personnel to operate it, the Department of Criminal Justice Services and State Police purchased closed-circuit television equipment, which they loan to local courts on request, along with trained technicians to set up the equipment and operate it.

Although it is rare for closed-circuit television to be used with adult victims, a research study in New South Wales investigated whether juror perceptions differed if adult sexual assault victims testified via closed-circuit television, prerecorded videotape, or face-to-face in the courtroom.2 The study found that juror perceptions of the complainant or the accused, as well as guilt of the accused, were not affected by the use of closed-circuit television.