When you’re on trial for allegedly committing a criminal offense, the prosecution is going to put multiple witnesses on the stand to try to prove the relevant statutory elements of the crime and obtain a conviction. You’ll have your own witnesses, of course, who will hopefully be able to contradict the prosecution’s evidence, but how do the jurors know who to trust?
That’s an important question given that everyone who testifies takes an oath to tell the truth. Although you might hope that the jury is able to see through any lies or misconceptions testified to by witnesses, they’re going to need some help in that regard. That’s why addressing witness credibility at trial can make or break your case.
How can you attack the credibility of the prosecution’s witnesses?
To defend yourself as aggressively as possible, you need to minimize the testimonial impact of the prosecution’s witnesses. Outside of outright suppression of that testimony, your best bet is to draw the reliability of the witness’s testimony into question. Here are some ways you can do that:
- Point out inconsistent statements: You might be surprised by a witness’s testimony at trial, especially if they’ve made inconsistent statements in the past. By highlighting these contradictions, you can raise doubt as to the reliability of the witness’s testimony. That’s why it’s important to depose the prosecution’s witnesses to lock them into certain statements that you can then use against them at trial.
- Highlight bias and motivation: There’s a good chance that some of the witnesses who testify against you simply don’t like you for whatever reason. Or they might’ve been given favorable treatment by prosecutors in exchange for their testimony, which is often an issue if that witness is also facing criminal charges. These biases and motivations can taint a witness’s testimony, which is why you need to point it out for the jury.
- Present evidence of prior criminal history: Some witnesses are inherently untrustworthy. This is especially true when the witness has been previously convicted of a criminal offense involving dishonesty. Therefore, if a witness in your criminal case has been convicted of something like fraud or forgery, then you need to be prepared to question them on it.
- Compare testimony to other evidence: In your criminal trial, you have to be able to contextualize each witness’s testimony in light of the other evidence that’s been presented. By doing so, you might find additional ways to attack the witness’s reliability or draw other key pieces of evidence into question.
Addressing witness credibility is an important aspect of your case. So, be sure to thoroughly analyze the prosecution’s witnesses to find the best ways to attack their reliability.
Be thorough in preparing your criminal defense
Although addressing the credibility of the prosecution’s witnesses is important in your criminal case, it’s just one piece of your criminal defense. You also need to build up the reliability of your own witnesses’ testimony, attack and use physical evidence to your advantage, and aggressively argue the law.
Knowing that you only get one shot at your criminal trial can be incredibly stressful. That’s why thorough preparation is key to presenting the strongest criminal defense possible. So, if you’ve been charged with a criminal offense, then now is the time to find the criminal defense avenues that best protect your future.