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Attacking witness credibility could be key to your case

On Behalf of | Oct 14, 2021 | Criminal Defense

It’s natural to worry about pending criminal allegations that have been levied against you. After all, the ramifications of a criminal conviction can be devastating. It might threaten you with jail or prison time, and enormous fines might shake your financial stability. Harm to your job and housing prospects, your reputation, and even your relationship and contact with your children through an existing custody arrangement can all be realistic possibilities.

As scary as that may sound, you have to realize that the prosecution has certain pieces of evidence that it’s going to heavily rely upon when presenting its case. This often takes the form of witness testimony. But not all witness testimony is treated equally. In fact, the judge or jury is tasked with giving each witness’s testimony the appropriate amount of weight. Therefore, if you can attack the credibility of the prosecution’s witnesses, then you might be able to diminish the impact that that witness’s testimony has on your case.

Here are just a few ways that you can go about attacking witness credibility:

  • Prior inconsistent statements: One of the best ways to damage a witness’s credibility and thus his or her reliability is to point out inconsistent statements. To do this, you should depose witnesses so that you lock in their testimony, which can then be used at trial to point out any other testimony that varies from those depositional statements. Therefore, you should be thorough in preparing for depositions and know how to use them to your advantage at trial.
  • Bias and motivation: A lot of witnesses are biased or have motivations for testifying the way they do. They may have been offered a plea deal in exchange for their testimony if they’re an alleged co-conspirator, or they may have a personal grudge against you. Make sure that you’re fully assessing the prosecution’s witnesses and any reasons they may have for testifying against you.
  • Prior criminal history: In some circumstances, you might be able to point out a witness’s prior criminal history as evidence that he or she lacks a truthful character. Criminal convictions for offenses such as fraud and forgery are examples of crimes that can really further your goal of attacking witness credibility.
  • Drawing out issues at trial: Depending on the facts of your case and how trial testimony plays out, you might be able to use a witness’s own statements against him or her. For example, a witness may testify that he witnessed you engage in criminal behavior, but through adept cross-examination, you might be able to raise doubt as to the truthfulness or validity of that statement if the environment was dark or the witness was far away from you when he said that he saw you engage in the behavior in question. This is why it’s important that you know how to skillfully cross-examine the prosecution’s witnesses.

Be aggressive in building your criminal defense

To maximize your chances of beating the prosecution, you need to build an aggressive and thorough criminal defense. This means attacking as many aspects of the prosecution’s case as possible. While witness credibility is certainly amongst those aspects, this is just a small piece of your criminal defense strategy. You’ll also want to try to suppress evidence, argue case law, and persuade the judge and jurors that the prosecution has failed to meet its burden. It’s a massive undertaking, but it’s certainly one that you don’t have to face alone. So, if you’d like to learn more about what you can do to build your criminal defense, then we encourage you to read up on this area of the law and speak to those who may be able to assist you.