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Cross Examination in California Criminal Cases



What Does Cross-Examination Have to do with Criminal Defense in California?

Cross examination is the questioning of an opponent’s witness at trial or hearing such as a preliminary hearing. Cross examination is actually a very important part of the trial because it has the power to impact the opinions of the judge and jury. As your California criminal defense lawyer, we use cross examination to discredit what the prosecution witness is bringing to the table. We gather our own evidence and our own witnesses to have the ball bouncing in your court. Our goal is to get you the best possible results.

This question above is good  because if you’re not a criminal and you haven’t been through the criminal process many times, most people don’t realize how the criminal process works, what happens and how cross-examination is such a vital part of a successful criminal defense.

We don’t use cross-examination all the time.  A lot of cases are resolved by way of plea negotiations, discussions, mitigation packages.  If the prosecutor has the goods on the defendant and the defendant decides they don’t want to risk going to jail or prison and they would rather try to resole the case in a manner that gets them the best possible resolution, then a lot of times cross-examination is not applicable.

Jury Trials and Cross-Examination

However, if the case is going to be fought through a jury trial or if the defense needs to do some damage to the prosecution’s case in order to get the results that they need, then cross-examination is one of the crucial tools that is used by any skilled successful criminal defense attorney.

Usually where you first see cross-examination in a criminal case at the felony level is at the preliminary hearing.  This is the hearing where the prosecutors have to show that they have all the evidence available to them in order to possibly get a guilty verdict in a jury trial.  In other words, they’ve got to have evidence of all the elements of whatever crimes they have the individual charged with.

So, first the prosecutor will call a witness and get the information they want from that witness through questioning.  They call that direct examination, and then the defense will get the opportunity to do their questioning which is called cross-examination.

Cross-examination is crucial because it’s an opportunity to do a number of things.  One, you can bring out facts through the prosecution’s witness that are helpful to your client.  You can also impeach the credibility of the prosecution’s witness by asking them questions designed to show that they’re not telling the truth or that they’ve omitted some facts, or some other crucial piece of information related to the case.

Only the most seasoned, best criminal defense attorneys, in my opinion and experience, have the ability to truly do an effective cross-examination.  It starts at the preliminary hearing in a criminal case.  Also, motions would also be applicable, and then lastly, if the case goes to trial, your criminal defense attorney is obviously going to need to have the ability and the skill to effectively cross-examine any witnesses that the prosecutors put on.

Impeachment of a Witness in Cross-Examination

Witness impeachment is a huge part of cross-examination.  What this legal term means is you’ve got information — it could be in any form.  It could be written information, information from a witness, on paper — there’s so many different examples of impeachment and you’re going to now use that information to show a crucial point in the case that helps your client.

A lot of times, it’s showing that the witness on the stand is not telling the truth about a material fact or issue in the case, and through examination of that witness and through impeachment and showing other statements, other information that’s available, you’re able to discredit that witness and successfully defend your client.

So, if you’re interested in how to run an effective cross-examination in a criminal case, I have a DVD that’s out on Amazon right now.  You can search that under Ronald Hedding, Cross-Examination DVD.  It’s got a lot of information — ten of my best cross-examination tips.

I think if you’re interested in criminal defense, if you’re interested in the law, and most importantly, if you’re interested in defending yourself, you’re going to want to grab that DVD, come sit down with me.  Set up an appointment if you need a criminal defense attorney to defend you in a criminal case in Los Angeles.

We Protect Our Client’s Rights and Freedom

We have a combined 75 years of experience. We are aggressive, persistent, and think quick on our feet. When it comes to cross examining, we have a tremendous amount of skill and strategy. We are attentive and focused. We care for our clients and want to protect their rights and freedom.

Few attorneys get the practice necessary to develop the skill needed to do an effective job cross-examining a witness. Our defense lawyers have had many years of experience and we have been successful in a number of jury trials. We have come to learn that effective cross examination wins trials and that is our mission for our clients – to win!

If you are facing a pending criminal charge, do not waste any time and call us to set up a free consultation.

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Ronald D. Hedding, ESQ.

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