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How to attack the credibility of the prosecution’s witnesses

On Behalf of | Mar 28, 2024 | Criminal Law |

Being accused of a criminal offense like battery or domestic violence can cause extensive damage to your life. The allegations themselves can harm your reputation, but a conviction can lead to jail time and a criminal record that negatively affects your ability to obtain and maintain employment.

In other words, there’s a lot at stake when you’ve been accused of breaking the law, which is why you need to find effective ways of defending yourself against the allegations that have been levied against you.

While physical evidence can be a crucial part of the prosecution’s case and your criminal defense, you can’t overlook the value of witness testimony.

Remember, your future is going to rest in the hands of jurors who are tasked with assessing the credibility of witnesses and assigning the appropriate amount of weight to their testimony. If you just let the prosecution’s witnesses say their piece without challenging them appropriately, then the jury is likely going to take them at their word, thereby putting you at a greater risk of conviction.

What can you do to tamp down the effectiveness of the prosecution’s witnesses?

One way is to attack witness credibility. Oftentimes, there are issues with witnesses that the jury won’t know about unless you point it out for them. And these details could impact the reliability of the testimony given. So, as you head into your case, you should see if you can utilize any of the following tactics to attack the credibility of the prosecution’s witnesses:

  • Highlight inconsistent statements: The witnesses in your case have probably told their story several times. If you can find any inconsistencies in those stories, then you can highlight them for the jury so that they realize that the witness can’t be trusted. An effective way to do this is to depose the witness, that way you lock in their testimony and can refer back to it if their trial testimony differs in any way.
  • Show bias: Although witnesses swear to tell the truth when they take the stand, sometimes their testimony is tainted by their own biases. This can be especially true in domestic violence cases when there’s bad blood between you and the alleged victim or members of the alleged victim’s family.
  • Present evidence of criminal history: You can’t utilize all of a witness’s criminal history as a way to attack their credibility, but you can and should point out any convictions they have for offenses related to truthfulness or lack thereof. For example, someone who has been convicted of fraud or forgery is probably going to be found by a jury to be less trustworthy than someone who has a clean criminal record.
  • Demonstrate motivation: Some witnesses are motivated to testify in a certain way. For example, they may have gotten a favorable plea bargain for their part of the alleged crime if they agreed to testify against you. This is important information the jury needs to know.
  • Show factual inconsistencies: Sometime witnesses simply misremember or misconstrue a fact to which they’re testifying. When this happens, you need to be armed with unquestionable contradictory evidence. This will demolish the witness’s credibility.

Develop the comprehensive criminal defense you need to protect your interests

There’s a lot on the line when you’re accused of criminal wrongdoing. If you don’t aggressively protect your interests, then you could wind up facing harsh penalties. Fortunately, though, you can build a strong criminal defense that seeks to push back on the prosecution’s assertions. By doing so in an effective and persuasive fashion, you’ll hopefully be able to avoid conviction and get back to your normal life.

If you need help figuring out the best way to build your criminal defense, please don’t hesitate to seek out the resources and the advocacy you feel that you need.