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;
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:
- Always answer the question and ONLY the question;
- 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’.
- Be humble – DON’T blow your own trumpet, DON’T brag on about yourself, DON’T give a smart answer to a question;
- Never get dragged or baited into an argument with either the Magistrate or the prosecutor;
- Never raise your voice,
- ALWAYS listen carefully to the question and repeat the question to yourself in your mind before you answer it.
- If you are nervous and you do not hear or understand the question, ask the prosecutor to repeat the question.
- Don’t commit yourself to something you are not sure about. If you don’t know, or don’t remember, say that.
- 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.
- Tell the truth!
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