Domestic violence charges can carry the threat of serious penalties. While you might face jail or even prison time upon conviction, you could also face other ramifications. Allegations of domestic violence can cause you to lose your job, your reputation, and even time with your child. The effects are far reaching and long-lasting, which is why it’s imperative that you know how to adequately defend yourself.
An important part of any criminal defense is simply telling your side of the story. In a domestic violence case, this may mean arguing that you acted in self-defense. However, in addition to telling your side of the story, you need to be prepared to attack the prosecution’s take on the events in question. Oftentimes the best way to do this is to attack the credibility of the prosecution’s witnesses.
Questioning witness credibility
When you go to trial, the judge or jury is tasked with assigning the appropriate amount of weight to the evidence presented. Therefore, if you can attack a witness’s credibly, then you can reduce the amount of weight given to the testimony that he or she gives. This can have a tremendous impact on your case. Here are just a few of the ways in which you can attack witness credibility:
- Motive: Sometimes witnesses are motivated to testify in a certain way. Maybe the witness was given a plea deal or promised something in return for testifying. This can taint how the witness portrays events. Make sure that you’re illustrating for the judge and jury why the witness’s take on events is misconstrued or painted in a certain light.
- Bias: Sometimes testimony is molded by prior experience or a deep dislike of the defendant. This can certainly be true in a domestic violence case when the alleged victim and the defendant might have bad blood, and familial ties are heated. Be sure to point out any biases that might impact a witness’s testimony.
- Prior inconsistent statements: In preparation for trial, you’re probably going to depose the prosecution’s witnesses. This will lock them into their testimony, which you can then use to point out any inconsistencies with the testimony they give at trial. This is a classic way to discredit a witness and draw his or her reliability into question.
- Prior criminal convictions: If a witness has a criminal history, then you may be able to use that against him or her. This is especially true if the conviction in question dealt with dishonesty in some way. For example, a fraud conviction shows a judge and jury that the witness has a history of being untruthful, thereby limiting the impact of that witness’s testimony.
- Perjury: Sometimes you can catch a witness flat out lying on the witness stand. This is perjury, which is a crime. If you can show that a witness is lying to a court while under oath, then you can completely destroy that witness’s credibility.
Build the criminal defense that is best for you
There’s a lot on the line when you’re facing domestic violence charges, which is why you should do everything in your power to build the best criminal defense possible under the circumstances. This requires a diligent and holistic approach that includes not only addressing witness credibly, but also other evidentiary issues such as the exclusionary rule. Therefore, to maximize your chances of successfully defending yourself, it’s imperative that you know the law and how to utilize it to your advantage.