Who is on the Witness Stand?

Explore:  Evidence Testimony Witness

The testimony of witnesses is essential to any court case. Whether a bench or jury trial, witness testimony provides details and describes the environment of alleged wrongdoing in either a civil or criminal matter. Because your liberty and sometimes your life may be at issue in a criminal matter, understanding the witnesses who may testify at your trial are important.

At the trial level, important, persuasive evidence often comes through witnesses testifying for, or against, you. Classifications of witnesses include:

  • Cooperating witness: While many crimes are committed individually, many are not. Oftentimes authorities pursue several suspects seeking to gain testimony against a co-conspirator. Working with authorities can be a mitigating factor for the cooperating witness when their sentence is up for consideration by a judge.
  • Hostile witness: A hostile witness is a person whose testimony is adverse to the party who is questioning the witness. Whether on direct or cross-examination, the knowledge of an adverse witness assists a criminal defense attorney prepare and structure their questioning accordingly.
  • Complaining witness: A complaining witness is the victim of a crime. Working with a reluctant witness, especially in criminal matters of domestic violence, can be difficult as witness testimony can become unpredictably assertive or vague at trial.
  • Eyewitness: Witnesses with direct experience are considered eye witnesses.
  • Character witness: Someone testifying to the reputation or habits of another are considered a character witness.
  • Expert witness: Professional witnesses who examine and offer qualified opinion about evidence are called expert witnesses.

Testimony is an integral component of a trial setting and your criminal defense. Ensure your defense attorney has a sound, successful background in trial practice and a reputable legal reputation within the California criminal justice system.

Posted in Criminal Defense