If you want to protect yourself as fully as possible against allegations of criminal wrongdoing, then you need to take a holistic approach to your criminal defense. This certainly means analyzing the prosecution’s evidence in light of the law, but it also means dealing with logistical issues like jury selection and motions to suppress evidence.
But once your case heads to trial, you need to be armed with a competent criminal defense strategy. And while you may spend a lot of your time focusing on what defense arguments you can make to rebut the prosecution’s claims, you can’t overlook the importance of attacking the reliability of the evidence itself.
One way that you can go about doing this is by attacking witness credibility. The judge or jury is going to be tasked with giving each witness’s testimony the appropriate amount of weight, which means that drawing a witness’s credibility into question can diminish the power of his or her testimony. This can be huge in your case and very well could mean the difference between being found guilty and being acquitted.
Ways to attack witness credibility
There are several ways that you can go about attacking witness credibility, too. Here are just some options that may be available to you in your case through Virginia’s rules of evidence:
- Prior criminal history: If the witness has prior criminal convictions for fraud, forgery, or other deception-related crimes, then you’ll probably be able to attack the witness’s character for truthfulness.
- Prior inconsistent statements: If the witness has made previous statements that are contradicted by his or her trial testimony, then you can point out those inconsistencies to attack the witness’s credibility. One of the best ways to protect your ability to point out inconsistent statements is to conduct depositions beforehand.
- Bias and motivation: Most witnesses carry some sort of bias or motivation to testify the way they do. Make sure to point those issues out to the judge and jury. If the witness has a personal grudge against you, then use that to your advantage. The same is true if an alleged co-conspirator was given a plea deal in exchange for testimony or if a police officer has a history of discrimination-based complaints.
- Competency: Sometimes you can question a witness in a way that demonstrates that he or she is unable to accurately recall key events. This can draw the witness’s competency into question and can lead to his or her testimony being entirely discounted.
Protecting your witnesses
Remember that even though it’s important to attack the credibility of the prosecution’s witnesses, it’ll be just as important for you to protect the credibility of those who are testifying on your behalf. Therefore, you should thoroughly prepare your witnesses for depositions and in-court testimony, and you should make sure that you have a full understanding of their histories and their motivations.
Aggressively protecting your rights and your freedom
If you want to give yourself the best possible chance of beating the prosecution, then you need to be prepared to address every aspect of your case. This is no small feat. That’s why you might find it beneficial to discuss your case with an attorney who isn’t afraid to go toe-to-toe with prosecutors to protect a client’s interests.
If that type of advocacy is appealing to you, then you may want to continue to research your representation options and have a thorough conversation with those law firms that you think are best positioned to advocate for your interests.