When a witness’ testimony plays a big role in the state’s case against a defendant, challenging that testimony could have a big impact on the outcome. Here are some examples of how experienced defense attorneys may be able to successfully counter testimonial evidence in criminal proceedings.
Changes in a witness’ account of events
If witnesses’ testimony is inconsistent with statements that they have previously made, a trier of fact is probably going to be skeptical about what they have to say at trial. By contrasting testimony with the information that witnesses provided in previous statements to police or depositions, legal counsel may impeach their testimony.
Alcohol or drug use could work against a witness’ credibility. False perceptions and difficulty remembering events are common consequences of substance use. When witnesses were drinking alcohol or using drugs at the time of an alleged crime, defense counsel can call their credibility into question. Counsel may introduce evidence of intoxication in the form of a third party’s testimony, details in a police report or a witness’ responses to cross-examination.
In some instances, witnesses in criminal cases may have something to gain from a defendant’s conviction. An identifiable, relevant financial interest or a pending criminal matter could raise questions about a witness’ motives for testifying.
It is not necessary to offer indisputable proof that a witness’ assertions are false in order to challenge them effectively. In criminal proceedings, raising any reasonable doubt about the accuracy or believability of testimony may be sufficient to defeat charges.