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Cross Examining the
Prosecution's Witness(es)

Once the officer (or other witness) finishes his/her testimony, you have the right to cross examine. This is when you get to ask questions regarding any part of the witness's testimony. You may also ask about things the witness did not testify about providing they are relevant to the case. (Usually you would ask about things not testified to directly by recalling the witness during the defense presentation, but most traffic courts do not enforce this formality.)

Do not argue with the officer. Ask questions and let the judge decide.

You may question the officer as to his/her certainty of a fact, and inquire as to how he/she can be so certain. Be careful with this tactic -- it can easily backfire, but it can also backfire on the officer.

You may also have the officer look at and answer questions about any evidence you have (e.g., pictures). Once again, use this with caution.

Cross examination offers an excellent opportunity to have the officer help you establish any favorable facts in your case.

Important points for cross examination:

  • Do not argue.
  • Do not make statements (it's not your turn, yet).
  • Ask questions relevant to your defense.
  • Phrase questions so as to elicit a response which helps your defense.
  • Treat all witnesses with respect.
  • If the officer's testimony does not agree with what he/she wrote on the ticket, you have just scored a major break. Ask the officer to repeat the pertinent part of his/her testimony, then point out the discrepancy. If the difference is significant enough (or if you even think it may be), you may ask the judge to dismiss the case on the grounds that the people do not have a competent witness present.

Your turn comes next, with the defense witness(es)' testimony.

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