In most criminal cases, there’s likely to be a time where a police officer takes the stand to present evidence for the prosecution. How the police officer witness is handled can make or break any case. Police witnesses offer special challenges on cross examination. First of all, there are inherent biases to combat with the jury. The jury looks at the accused as a potential criminal and liar. Meanwhile, police officers are often looked at by jurors with respect and admiration. Therefore its important to ask police officer questions at trial in a planned and careful matter that takes these biases into account.
The most helpful tool in preparing for the cross examination of a police witness is their report. The written report of police witnesses will be available in discovery, and can be used to nail down the officer to a single version of events. The point isn’t to construct an elaborate trap like you may see on tv. Instead, you want to construct a narrative that can illustrate deficits in the officer’s testimony and memory. This may include drawing out exactly what the officer saw (and by implication, what they didn’t see), the lighting and weather conditions, and testing their memory of events. Police officers handle hundreds of cases every year, and mistakes will happen. And if they’re mistaken about some things, its possible for the jury to conclude they are mistaken about others. It is also important to challenge conclusions made by officers that are not supported by physical evidence.
Sometimes the questions you don’t ask are just as important. A well constructed cross examination leads the jury to a conclusion that they draw themselves. Trying to force an officer to admit that they made a mistake that is obviously damaging to their case will often just give them the opportunity to explain it away, and will also give them the opportunity to heap on more damaging information about the defendant. You don’t want to open that door if the prosecution hasn’t already.
Cross examination of a police officer is both an art and a science that is honed over years of trial experience. That’s why you want Attorney Frank Walker to be the one asking the right questions on your behalf. Attorney Walker has years of trial experience and he isn’t afraid to take a tough case to trial. Don’t just plead guilty, lawyer up and fight the case! Call 412-532-6805 to reach his office in Pittsburgh or call (304) 712-2089 for the office in Morgantown. Call now!
About Frank Walker Law
Attorney Frank Walker of Frank Walker Law is a National Top 100 Criminal Defense Lawyer, and Personal Injury Attorney who has been recognized as a Super Lawyer, Best Attorneys in America and a Top AVVO Rated attorney, with offices in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and Morgantown West Virginia.
If you or someone you love are facing criminal charges or seriously injured in an accident, contact Attorney Frank Walker immediately at 412-532-6805, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for aggressive and experienced Criminal Defense or Representation in a Civil Case.