When a witness is brought in during a criminal case, they’re going to testify about what they saw happen during the alleged crime. This is seen by the jury as one of the few ways — if there is no video account — of actually finding out what happened. The idea is that the accused would have reason to lie about the event if they are guilty, but a witness would not.
However, witness testimony is often flawed. There are many ways to challenge it, and it’s important to know how to proceed.
Three key areas to examine
There are three key ways in which a person’s testimony may be challenged. They are:
For example, perhaps the witness is related to one of the alleged victims. This could establish bias in the case, meaning their account may not be accurate. The witness could also be someone with a grudge against the accused, leading them to lie. This could mean that truthfulness is not at the heart of the account, even if some facts are true.
The validity of the statement could be called in to question even if the witness believes they are telling the truth and is not biased. For instance, perhaps it was dark and rainy at the time, so the witness can’t know for sure what they think they saw from a distance.
Your rights and defense options
Never assume that a case has to go one way or another, regardless of the testimonies against you. There are always defense options. You just need to make sure you understand your rights and all of the steps that you and your attorney can take as the case moves forward.