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Seattle U. L. Rev.


Domestic violence offenses are difficult to prosecute because the batterer's actions often make the victim unavailable to testify. Since the mid- 1990s, prosecutors have pursued "victimless" prosecutions' to combat the problem.2 Victimless prosecutions seek to introduce reliable evidence without the victim's in-court testimony, often to maintain the victim's safety or to avoid re-victimizing the victim.3 The victimless prosecution is based largely on the admission of hearsay statements that a victim makes to 911 operators, police officers, doctors, nurses, paramedics, and social workers.4 Victimless prosecution has been a highly successful tool in society's efforts to eradicate domestic violence and it is made possible by using the unavailable victim's admissible hearsay statements. In its most recent term, the United States Supreme Court decided Crawford v. Washington5 and held that the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment bars admission of certain hearsay statements of unavailable witnesses.6 With its decision in Crawford, the Supreme Court placed the future of victimless domestic violence prosecutions in doubt.7 This article will explore the Crawford decision in the context of victimless prosecutions. Part II will discuss current trends in victimless domestic violence prosecution and the power and control dynamics of domestic violence relationships, including how these dynamics relate to, and create the need for, victimless prosecutions. Part III will discuss the Crawford decision. Part IV will explore possible interpretations of Crawford within the context of victimless domestic violence prosecutions. Part V will explain why courts should interpret Crawford in a way that allows prosecutors to continue to prosecute batterers without a participating victim.