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Guide to surviving cross examination


Most people are nervous about having to give evidence at Court – and particularly about cross-examination.

Giving evidence is a three part process:

  • Evidence in chief;
  • Cross examination;
  • Re-examination.

Questions put to you in evidence in chief and re-examination are asked by your own lawyer, whereas cross examination is conducted by the prosecutor.

My top ten tips to remember when being cross examination are:

  1. Always answer the question and ONLY the question;
  2. Never explain your answer unless absolutely necessary – you can answer most questions by saying: ‘yes, no, I don’t know, or I don’t remember’.
  3. Be humble – DON’T blow your own trumpet, DON’T brag on about yourself, DON’T give a smart answer to a question;
  4. Never get dragged or baited into an argument with either the Magistrate or the prosecutor;
  5. Never raise your voice,
  6. ALWAYS listen carefully to the question and repeat the question to yourself in your mind before you answer it.
  7. If you are nervous and you do not hear or understand the question, ask the prosecutor to repeat the question.
  8. Don’t commit yourself to something you are not sure about. If you don’t know, or don’t remember, say that.
  9. If you make a mistake while giving evidence, DON’T try and bluff your way out of it. Say “I think I’m mistaken” and correct your answer. DON’T try and extend the answer into a story to make up for the mistake. Simply stop and start again – remember you are under a promise to tell the truth.
  10. Tell the truth!

Image Credit – Maksym Yemelyanov © 123RF.com

Written by Angela Cooney on May 23, 2018

Angela is able to assist clients with all criminal offences such as assaults, drug charges, traffic matters, theft, break and enters, firearms, sexual offences and apprehended violence orders. Angela is an experienced Court advocate having appeared in the Local and District Court, the Court of Criminal Appeal as well as in Federal jurisdictions in a multitude of matters, including complex strictly indictable trials. View Angela's profile


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