When preparing for trial, a criminal defence lawyer or barrister requires the time to properly prepare and consider every aspect of the prosecution case that is in dispute (and that is required to be disputed) in order to properly defend you on a plea of not guilty. This necessarily requires:
Consideration of all of the evidence in detail;
Instructions from Client;
Identification of any witnesses who can assist with the Client’s defence;
Identification and provision of any material that can assist the criminal defence lawyer with defending their Client (i.e. - emails, phone messages, footage etc.);
Any notes or guidance from the Client as to matters of concern regarding the evidence (for example, matters that don’t sit well with what the Client knows about the case).
When a criminal defence lawyer has the benefit of quality instructions, such as detailed information of the kind referred to above, they are in a position to properly assess where and how they can challenge the strength the prosecution’s case, to the extent that it ought not be accepted by the judge or jury beyond reasonable doubt. The benefits of such information will, in the most significant sense, assist with understanding how and who needs to be cross-examined by the defence.
Why is cross-examination important?
Cross-examination is one of the most powerful tools that an accused person has. If done properly, cross-examination will expose inconsistencies and flaws with the prosecution’s case. For example:
Where a complainant has been inconsistent with what has occurred, and the cross-examining criminal defence lawyer is able to effectively expose those inconsistencies (or in some cases, outright lies), then that will assist with a submission that witness’s evidence ought not be accepted because they are not credible or reliable;
Where there is independent evidence that establishes that something did not occur in the way that the prosecution alleges, then it will sometimes be the case that this can also be effectively exposed or built upon in cross-examination. Independent evidence may also be adduced in cross-examination that can objectively prove that another witness is lying (which can be critical to the success of a given case);
In a drug case, when there is a suggestion that drugs found belonged to another person, then effective cross-examination can in some instances result in material being adduced in cross-examination that supports that theory (for example, where that person can be identified and they have a prior record for drug dealing, then this evidence can be adduced in cross-examination as a positive support for the defence case that the accused was not in possession of the said drugs).
Importantly, effective cross-examination will highlight what the issues are for the judge or jury when considering the defence case. At the end of the day, the Court must be satisfied that an accused person is guilty beyond reasonable doubt. If there is a rational theory consistent with the innocence of the accused, then the Court must acquit. In these circumstances, cross-examination plays a vital role in the trial. In essence, it is one of the most important tasks for a criminal defence lawyer to perform when arguing on an accused’s behalf at trial.
If you require urgent advice from a criminal defence lawyer in relation to your charges, please feel free to give me a call on 0431 454 908 or alternatively, fill out the form below and I’ll endeavour to get back to you within the hour.