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Criminal Law: What Is the Art of Discrediting a Witness?

After you’ve been arrested and charged with a felony, you may have to go to trial if a plea bargain is not reached.

During a criminal trial, it’s common for the prosecution to call witnesses to testify against you, but it’s also common for your defense lawyer to cross-examine these witnesses.

And in criminal law, witness testimony can sway a jury against you, so your lawyer must know how to attack witnesses on your behalf.

Here are some of the most effective methods for defense lawyers to discredit a prosecution’s witness.

Common Ways To Discredit a Witness In Criminal Law

Every criminal defense lawyer has his or he own way of dealing with prosecution witnesses, but there are some common methods to weaken the testimony of a witness, including:

  • Make Witnesses Affirm Or Deny – a good criminal lawyer will often ask questions that box a witness into answering ‘yes’ or ‘no’, which limits the witness from being able to offer deeper explanations that could negatively impact a defendant.
  • Jump On Every Inconsistency – to dent the credibility of a witness, a defense lawyer has to point out every inconsistent statement that the witness has made. This includes initial statements to police officers, and any changes to that statement – no matter how minor – that the witness has made since that time.
  • Make Them Recount Exactly What They Witnessed – another method criminal defense lawyers use to discredit a witness is to force them to recount every detail they witnessed during the criminal event that led to the trial. This is a tactic that can help break down a witness’s credibility, because it gives a defense lawyer the opportunity to present other possibilities for what the witness claims her or she saw.
  • Showing that the Witness Has a Bias Against the Defendant – in many instances, a witness for the prosecution has a personal grudge against the defendant, which motivates that witness to provide testimony. Defense lawyers can use their investigative team to unearth personal connections between witnesses and defendants, and ask questions that will force witnesses to reveal the bad blood between them and the defendants.

The Right To An Aggressive Defense

Regardless of the crime that you’ve been accused of, you not only have the right to a defense lawyer, you have the right to an aggressive defense team that will challenge every aspect of the prosecution’s case, including the credibility of the state’s witnesses. But you need a criminal law firm that has the all the necessary resources, and the team at the Law Office of Paul J. Donnelly, P.A. have the experience and the track record to give you a fighting chance. Please call us today at 305-757-3331 for a free legal consultation.

Additional Reading

What To Do When You Face Criminal Charges

Don’t Just Sit There, Call An Aggressive Criminal Attorney In Miami

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