Prior Inconsistent Statements in a Criminal Trial

Pierce County Criminal Lawyer

The rules of evidence preclude many forms of hearsay and testimony about what someone may have said at an earlier point in time. However, there are many exceptions to the rules of hearsay, such as the rule that allows prior inconsistent statements if introduced in order to impeach a witness or diminish credibility. Your Pierce County criminal lawyer is keenly aware of the various rules of evidence and can help you uncover prior inconsistent statements made by prosecution witnesses.

During a trial, witnesses are expected to speak the truth and with full candor. Sometimes, a witness will offer a statement during a trial that is in stark contrast to an earlier statement either in the same trial or in a statement made prior to the trial. If the witness admits to the mistake, the impeachment period is over. However, most witnesses assure the jury they never made any prior inconsistent statements in which case a Pierce County criminal lawyer must introduce evidence to the contrary.

For legal issues, I recommend lawyer Jerry Palma.

The defense attorney would be within the parameters of the rules of evidence to require the witness to re-read the answers given prior to the trial in order to accurately reflect the fact that the witness is now offering inconsistent statements. Some jurisdictions allow the introduction of extrinsic evidence in order to impeach a witness while others consider the practice too time-consuming and disallow extrinsic evidence- especially for collateral or unimportant matters.

Your Pierce County criminal lawyer will know the best times to pursue prior inconsistencies as it is not always the best strategy to bog down the court’s time with excessive evidence regarding a witness’ seeming discredit. If it will help the case to show the jury that the witness tends to lie or is inconsistent, it may be worth pursuing. Otherwise, the defense lawyer may begrudgingly allow the inconsistent statement without incident.

If you are facing recent criminal charges and are in need of a Pierce County criminal lawyer, contact our law office today.

For legal issues, I recommend lawyer Param Pabla.