4 Rules For Cross-Examining In Texas Criminal Cases

In any criminal trial it is essential that the criminal attorney be able to destroy the credibility of a witness if at all possible. One of the best methods criminal lawyers use to destroy the credibility of a witness is called impeachment with a prior inconsistent statement. What that means is that the lawyer confronts the witness with an oral or written statement they have made on a previous occasion which is different from what they testified to in trial. In order for a judge to allow this type of cross-examination the criminal lawyer must follow  rule 613(a)  in the Texas Rules of Evidence. Here are the four requirements in Texas law a lawyer must follow to properly impeach a witness with a prior inconsistent statement.

1. Tell the witness the Statement. Before you can impeach the witness the lawyer must tell witness what the exact prior inconsistent statement was.

2. The time and place. The witness must also be informed when the prior statement was made and what location.

3. To whom the statement was made. The witness must be told the name of the person the prior inconsistent statement was made.

4. The witness is allowed to explain or deny. When confronted with the prior inconsistent statement the witness must be given the opportunity to explain his prior statement or deny making the statement.

If the these four rules are followed then the criminal lawyer can impeach the witness and if the witness denies making the prior statement the criminal attorney will be allowed to call witnesses and present evidence proving up the prior inconsistent statement. The result of this kind of cross-examination can be devastating on the prosecution’s case. An experienced criminal attorney will know how to prepare an effective cross-examination and impeach a witness if the evidence is there.

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