Cross-examining Witnesses in Criminal Trials: 5 Rules

Cross-examination of the witnesses are the keys to a successful defense in a criminal trial. To conduct an effective cross-examination the criminal lawyer should remember these 5 basic rules.

1. Preparation.  The criminal lawyer must know the evidence inside and out. Then he or she can meet any challenge presented on direct testimony.

2. Plan attack. Have a plan of attack for the witness. Have an outline of the points that have to be made with each witness.

3. Get in get out. Don’t just ask questions to ask questions. The jury will lose interest and you will water down the important points you have scored on the witness.

4. Ask leading questions. Using leading questions allows you to control the witness and to allows the defense to present it’s story through cross-examination.

5. Keep Question short. Questions should be short and designed to get short answers. The jury can follow the cross more easily. This also allows better control of the witness.



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