If you’re facing criminal charges, then there’s a strong possibility that the prosecution is going to rely on key witnesses to build its case. That might leave you feeling nervous, especially if the evidence against you seems strong. But you shouldn’t sit back and let the prosecution run the show. After all, a jury is tasked with assigning the appropriate amount of weight to the evidence presented at trial. This means that if you take a passive approach to your criminal defense, then the jury is probably going to side with the prosecution.
What you can do about the prosecution’s witnesses
Fortunately, you don’t have to let witnesses throw you under the bus. Instead, you can be proactive in trying to minimize the impact they have on your criminal defense. While there might be several ways to go about doing so, one of the strongest strategies is attacking witness credibility. Here are some of the best ways to go about addressing what could be a key component to your criminal defense:
- Inconsistent statements: A lot of attacks on witness credibility come from impeachment by prior inconsistent statements. Here, you highlight for the jury that the witness has made two contradictory statements: one before trial and one during trial. Perhaps the best way to set a witness up for an inconsistent statement is to conduct a deposition. This sworn testimony is given prior to trial, but it can carry just as much weight. You can use a deposition to lock a witness into his or her statements, which you can then use if the witness gives contradictory testimony at trial. In other words, using this strategy shows the jury that the witness can’t be trusted to tell the truth.
- Bias and motivation: Bias and motivation can shape the way that witnesses testify. Alleged accomplices, for example, might be given an advantageous plea deal in exchange for their testimony. In other instances, witnesses have bad blood with the defendant, which can color their perception of the facts. If you want to minimize the impact of these witnesses’ statements, then you need to know how to highlight their biases and motivations.
- Prior criminal convictions: In some cases, a defendant can show that the witnesses shouldn’t be trusted because he or she has a character for being untruthful. This can be shown through a prior criminal conviction that involves some form of dishonesty, such as fraud or forgery.
- Lack of requisite knowledge: Testimony is going to be admitted at trial unless you successfully object to it. Therefore, the burden is on you to point out when witnesses lack the requisite personal knowledge or expertise to give certain testimony. This can minimize the impact that a witness’s testimony has on the jury, which, in turn, could be a turning point in your case.
Thoroughly prepare your criminal defense
To present the strongest criminal defense possible under the circumstances, you need to be adequately prepared. This means researching the prosecution’s witnesses, knowing case law, knowing the rules of evidence, and competently crafting the legal strategy that you need to protect your interests. We know that these goals aren’t easily accomplished, which is why it’s imperative that you seek out the support that you feel like you need and be proactive in building your criminal defense. Hopefully then you can poke enough holes in the prosecution’s case to beat the charges levied against you.