When a person is arrested on criminal charges in Texas, there will be inevitable fear and concern as to what the future holds. Most people will equate their case with what they might have seen on television and in the movies. Even the news has become overdramatized with the expectation of an intense cross-examination of witnesses with the entire case hinging on one side or the other making a glaring error or omission. In truth, criminal cases are generally not like that. Despite that reality, witness testimony can be damaging or helpful. When crafting a defense, the witness testimony plays a fundamental role in the outcome so having effective representation is essential.
Key points about witnesses in a Texas legal case
Not just anyone can be a credible witness in a case and there are strategies based on the law to call them into question even if they do testify. Witnesses may be declared incompetent if they are insane at the time of the events about which they are called to testify. Those who do not have sufficient intellect to testify can also be deemed incompetent. That might include a child or someone of diminished intellectual capabilities. When a person is called to testify, he or she must have personal knowledge of what happened. They must also swear to speak truthfully when giving testimony.
A common strategy that defense attorneys might use to call testimony into question is to gauge the witness’s character. If the witness has a reputation for being truthful or untruthful, then it is fair for the defense attorney to find evidence as to these issues and use it during the questioning. For example, if during the case, the person who is testifying is an alleged accomplice of the person who is on trial, then the criminal history and past behavior – including previous criminal convictions – could be part of the questioning. Witnesses can be cross-examined based on their credibility. In addition, if a witness has made inconsistent statements in the past, then this too can be used during the examination.
Effective questioning of witnesses is key to a defense
To combat the charges, a viable criminal defense is imperative. whether it is through a plea agreement, a dismissal of the charges or an acquittal, it is crucial to have legal assistance that understands the nuance of witness testimony. Mistakes in whether a witness should be allowed to testify, what they can and cannot say and other areas of a criminal case can lead to a conviction when it did not need to happen. Having an effective legal advocate to protect the defendant is necessary from the outset. If the defendant has an ineffective attorney, there is still time to seek someone with better credentials in all areas of the law – especially handling adversarial witnesses. Consulting with those experienced in all areas of criminal law is key to reaching a positive result.