In just about any criminal case, the prosecution is going to rely on witness testimony to a large extent. That means that the weight that a judge or jury gives to an individual’s testimony can make or break your case. Does that sound like something that’s out of your control? If so, then you might be surprised to learn that there are legal strategies that you can use to your advantage when it comes to addressing witness credibility.
Attacking witness credibility
Attacking the credibility of the prosecution’s witnesses can quickly derail its case. To successfully do so, though, you need to know the law and some of the common tactics that can be utilized to reach your goal.
- Prior inconsistency statements: Here, you use a witness’s prior statement to show that he or she is being inconsistent with his or her court testimony. This is often done by deposing witnesses prior to trial and then using that sworn testimony against them at trial.
- Bias or motivation: A lot of witnesses have biases or motivations that can affect the way they testify. An alleged accomplice, for example, might have been given a plea deal or immunity in exchange for testifying for the prosecution. A police officer might have a history of racially profiling. These matters need to be drawn to the fact finder’s attention.
- Criminal record: This is a limited tactic, but evidence of a conviction for an offense related to being untruthful, such as fraud, can be highly relevant to a witness’s credibility. Be sure to thoroughly vet the prosecution’s witnesses to see where their weaknesses lie.
Have a well-prepared criminal defense
While you need to be prepared to attack witness credibility, you also need to be prepared to defend your witnesses. This highlights the importance of having a well thought out, holistic criminal defense. Anything less could have massive ramifications for your future. So, if you want help building your criminal defense, then it might be time to speak to an attorney you trust to fight for you.