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Impeaching a witness

One of the worst parts about being a defendant in a white collar criminal case is that you learn -- really fast -- who you shouldn't have trusted. It isn't uncommon to feel angry, hurt and outright betrayed by the witnesses who seemingly come out of the proverbial woodwork to testify against you, especially when you feel like they're only doing so because they have a grudge against you or another personal reason to exaggerate -- or even lie.

This is where your defense attorney will work to impeach the witnesses against you. In essence, "impeaching" a witness is challenging their credibility in court and showing the judge or jury that the witness cannot be trusted for one reason or another.

How can your defense attorney impeach a witness? Here are some examples:

  • Your former secretary testifies against you, but your attorney gets her to admit that she left your office under a black cloud after some money went missing from petty cash.
  • Your ex-boyfriend testifies against you, but your attorney is able to elicit testimony that shows that your ex-boyfriend is still bitter and angry about the break-up.
  • A nurse in your office testifies against you, but your attorney is able to show that her testimony has changed over time -- and no longer matches what she once said.
  • You accountant testifies against you but your attorney is able to elicit information that she has been offered a "sweetheart" sentencing recommendation for her part in the alleged crime if she testifies the way that the prosecution wants.
  • One of your business partners testifies against you -- but your attorney is able to create doubt about the validity of the testimony because your partner has a long-running battle with drugs and alcohol.

There are numerous ways that witness testimony can be impeached. Credibility is extremely important in any criminal case -- especially where financial crimes are involved and the potential penalties are stiff. For more information, talk to your defense attorney today.

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