A lot of criminal cases are built on faulty testimony. Far too often people wrongly remember events, misidentify perpetrators, or are motivated to testify in a certain fashion that may not necessarily comport with the truth. But if your loved one has been charged with a serious crime, you don’t want the judge and jury to give that testimony a lot of weight.
So what can you do about questionable witnesses?
Attacking witness credibility can be a crucial aspect of any criminal defense. To successfully do so, you might want to consider a number of tactics, many of which utilize the rules of evidence.
- Use depositions: A deposition, which is simply sworn testimony given outside of court and prior to trial, can help you lock down a witness’s testimony and spot any inconsistencies. You can then investigate further and use the deposition to highlight inconsistencies during that witness’s trial testimony. These inconsistencies, and sometimes downright lies, can help chip away at reliability and credibility.
- Consider bias and other motives: Oftentimes witnesses only cooperate with the prosecution in exchange for some sort of benefit, such as seeing their own charges dropped or reduced. In other instances, an individual’s biases, whether racial or otherwise, can taint his or her account of events. These need to be pointed out to discredit the testimony.
- History of being untruthful: a witness may have a criminal history that speaks directly to his or her character for truthfulness. Therefore, criminal convictions for offenses such as fraud and forgery may help you significantly attack a witness’s credibility.
Be prepared to maneuver these challenging legal issues
Pointing out issues related to witness credibility isn’t easy. In fact, it can be quite challenging, especially when the other side knows how to properly address it. That’s one of the many reasons why you might want to consider working closely with an experienced criminal defense attorney who has decades of experience in the criminal courts and who knows how prosecutors operate.