Posted by on 05/12/2018

Cross-Examination: How to Rattle a Witness in Court

Cross-Examination: How to Rattle a Witness in Court

The courtroom is a ruthless place especially for the defendant and witnesses. There are a lot of questions being thrown at you that threaten to destroy your credibility. A good criminal defense lawyer knows how to break down the witness without breaking the rules.

If you are in California, Fresno criminal defense lawyer Michael J Aed knows the ins and outs of courtroom cross-examination. It is important to have an experienced attorney to get the best possible outcome for your case.

Not only should your defense attorney be knowledgeable about these things. You should understand them as well. Here are five ways that lawyers cross-examine witnesses:

#1: Is That a “Yes” or “No”

It’s best to always ask close-ended questions. In choosing this line of questioning, lawyers make sure witnesses can’t explain their answers to shed better light on the incident. These questions often begin with “is it possible” or “isn’t it true” since those questions are more difficult to answer with a “no.” It rattles witnesses when they have to answer questions in the affirmative without explaining themselves.

#2: No “Why”

In contrast, when you ask a question beginning with “Why,” lawyers give witnesses the chance to explain themselves and share their own version of the story. This type of question is open-ended and attorneys generally don’t ask them during cross-examination.

#3: Show the Inconsistencies

A good criminal defense lawyer would ask a lot of questions and point out the inconsistencies in a witness’s story. Listening intently on the witness’s story and showing the discrepancies can unnerve a witness. The point is to show that the witness is not someone who is credible. It can be traumatic for the witness if they are not prepared for such ruthlessness.

#4: No Name-Calling

While defense lawyers aim to destroy a witness’s credibility, they should not call them flat-out liars. It is illegal in many states for lawyers to call them out on their dishonesty. It would also be unethical.

“There is never a reason to call a witness a liar, even if I happen to personally believe that the witness is lying,” Tre Critelli, a lawyer on the Iowa Supreme Court disciplinary board, said. “My 'job' on cross, so to speak, is to have the jurors themselves see enough that they will call the witness a liar.”

#5: Find Other Ways

A good lawyer will not feel the need to call witnesses as liars since they will find other ways to unnerve them. Attorneys would pay close attention to how the witnesses talk and how quick their breathing is. Noticing how quickly witnesses breathe can be used against them in making their hearts race. However, the defense lawyer still needs to be subtle about it since being seen as a bully can damage their chances with the jury. Basically, the jury should be the one to discredit the witnesses.

Attorney Michael J Aed is a Criminal defense attorney Fresno. He and his team specialize in assault and battery, domestic violence, theft crimes, and DUI cases.

Contact This Member

Join our Mailing List to Receive Marketing Tips