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What To Consider When Selecting Witnesses For Your Trial

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For any criminal defendant, the trial is very important, as it's the one time the individual gets to plead their case — in detail. As a part of the proceeding, both the prosecution and the defendant have an opportunity to present witnesses that can attest to different parts of the case. The determination as to who should testify at your trail should not be one that you take lightly. While your criminal defense attorney will sit down with you to help you establish your witness list, there are some factors you should keep in mind.


It's essential you only select witnesses for your trial that are reliable. A person that does not typically show up when you need them might not be the right person for this type of setting, especially if you need him or her to deliver critical information. 

The ideal witness is someone who consistently delivers on their promises and does so in a timely fashion. If you are torn between two people, and one is more reliable than the other, always go with the person with the better track record. The last thing you need is for the person not to show up when you need them.


Try to find someone to testify on your behalf that does not have a lengthy criminal record. Prosecution teams often work to discredit witnesses in order to plant a seed of doubt into whatever it is that the individual is saying. Take someone on trial for burglary that has someone testify on their behalf that has a record of burglary convictions. 

While the person on trial might be innocent, the fact that the person they have testifying is guilty of the same charge does not look good and might make a jury believe the person is guilty since they hang out with people who have a similar history. 


Make sure the witness is someone who has firsthand knowledge about whatever topic it is they will testify about on your behalf. If there is any perception that the witness is speaking with second-hand or outdated knowledge, it can hurt their testimony and your case.

For example, if you have a witness that will testify about your character, a friend that you haven't seen in 10 years probably isn't the ideal option. Someone who is currently a part of your life on a regular basis, such as a close family member or a current co-worker is the better option. 

Take your time as you plan your witness list to ensure you make the appropriate selection.