When you’re facing serious felony charges, the prosecution is going to do everything in its power to build a compelling case with strong witness testimony. As you prepare your criminal defense, you might be worried about what these witnesses are going to say about you and the events in question. Yet, even if their testimony is pretty damaging, there are things that you can do to minimize the harm caused by that testimony and raise doubt as to your guilt.
How to attack witness credibility
One of the best ways to sow doubt in regard to a witness’s testimony is to attack his or her credibility. Under the rules of evidence there are a lot of different ways that you can do this.
- Inconsistent statements: Often referred to as impeachment, this tactic uses a witness’s prior statements to point out contradictions in their testimony. A deposition is probably the best way to set this up, which is where you take a witness’s sworn testimony before trial so that they are locked into the story they give at that deposition. That deposition testimony is then used at trial to point out inconsistent statements.
- Bias and motive: A lot of witnesses are motivated to testify a certain way, and the truth isn’t the catalyst. Alleged accomplices, for example, may be offered a plea deal or immunity in exchange for testimony. The jury needs to know that. They also need to know if a witness like a police officer has a history of racial discrimination or some other sort of bias that might color their testimony.
- Criminal history: A witness’s criminal history can be indicative of their character for truthfulness. If a witness has convictions for crimes like forgery or fraud, then you can aggressively attack their credibility.
Be prepared to address every facet of your case
Attacking witness credibility can be critically important to your case, but it’s just one aspect of your criminal defense. You need to take a holistic and an aggressive approach to your case, especially given the fact that there’s so much on the line. If you think that you could benefit from assistance in developing your case, then you might want to reach out to a strong criminal defense attorney of your choosing sooner rather than later.