|Part of the common law series|
|Types of evidence|
|Testimony · Documentary evidence|
|Physical evidence · Digital evidence|
|Exculpatory evidence · Scientific evidence|
|Demonstrative evidence · Real evidence|
|Eyewitness identification · DNA · Lies|
|Burden of proof · Laying a foundation|
|Subsequent remedial measure|
|Character evidence · Habit evidence|
|Similar fact evidence|
|Chain of custody|
|Judicial notice · Best evidence rule|
|Competence · Privilege|
|Direct examination · Cross-examination|
|Impeachment · Recorded recollection|
|Expert witness · Dead man statute|
|Hearsay (and its exceptions)|
|Hearsay: in U.K. law · in U.S. law|
|Confessions · Business records|
|Excited utterance · Dying declaration|
|Party admission · Ancient document|
|Declarations against interest|
|Present sense impression · Res gestae|
|Learned treatise · Implied assertion|
|Other areas of the common law|
|Contract law · Tort law · Property law|
|Wills and Trusts · Criminal law|
Witness impeachment, in the law of evidence, is the process of calling into question the credibility of an individual who is testifying in a trial. The Law of evidence governs the use of Testimony (eg oral or written statements such as an Affidavit) and exhibits (e Common law refers to law and the corresponding legal system developed through decisions of courts and similar tribunals rather than through legislative statutes or executive "Testify" redirects here For other uses see Testify (disambiguation and Testimony (disambiguation. Documentary evidence is any evidence introduced at a trial in the form of Documents. Physical evidence is any evidence introduced in a trialin the form of a physical object intended to prove a fact in issue based on its demonstrable physical characteristics Digital evidence or electronic evidence is any probative information stored or transmitted in Digital form that a party to a Court case may use at Exculpatory evidence is the evidence favorable to the Defendant in a criminal trial, which clears or tends to clear the defendant of Guilt. This article is about the legal concept For scientific evidence in pure science see Scientific evidence. Demonstrative evidence is evidence in the form of a Representation of an object Real evidence is a type of Physical evidence and consists of objects that were involved in a case or actually played a part in the incident or transaction in question Eyewitness identification evidence is the leading cause of Wrongful conviction in the United States Lies, on their own are not sufficient evidence of a crime However Lies may indicate that the defendant knows he is guilty and the prosecution may rely on the fact that the Relevance, in the Common law of evidence, is the tendency of a given item of evidence to prove or disprove one of the legal elements of the case or to have Probative Burden of proof (onus probandi is the obligation to prove Allegations which are presented in a Legal action. In Law, a foundation is sufficient preliminary evidence of the authenticity and relevance for the admission of material evidence in A subsequent remedial measure is a term used in the Law of evidence in the United States to describe an improvement or repair taken following an injury Character evidence is a term used in the Law of evidence to describe any testimony or document submitted for the purpose of proving that a person acted in a particular Habit evidence is a term used in the Law of evidence in the United States to describe any evidence submitted for the purpose of proving that a person In the law of Evidence, similar fact evidence (or the similar fact principle) establishes the conditions under which factual evidence of past misconduct of accused Authentication, in the Law of evidence, is the process by which Documentary evidence and other Physical evidence is proven to be genuine and Chain of custody refers to the chronological documentation and/or Paper trail, showing the seizure custody control transfer analysis and disposition of Evidence Judicial Notice is a rule in the Law of evidence that allows a fact to be introduced into evidence if the truth of that fact is so notorious or well known that it The best evidence rule is a Common law rule of evidence which can be traced back at least as far as the 18th century A self-authenticating document, under the Law of evidence in the United States, is any Document that can be admitted into evidence at a trial An ancient document, in the Law of evidence, refers to both a means of authentication for a piece of Documentary evidence, and an exception to the A witness is someone who has firsthand knowledge about a Crime or dramatic event through their Senses (e In American law competence concerns the mental capacity of an individual to participate in legal proceedings Under Common law, privilege is a term describing a number of rules excluding evidence that would be adverse to a fundamental principle or relationship if it were disclosed The Direct Examination is a crucial part of the case Direct examination (also called examination in chief is the questioning of a witness by the party who called him or her in a See Structure of policy debate for cross-examination in Policy debate. A recorded recollection, in the Law of evidence, is an exception to the Hearsay rule which allows a witness to testify to the accuracy of a recording or An expert witness is a Witness, who by virtue of Education, Training, Skill, or Experience, is believed to have Knowledge A dead man statute is a statute designed to prevent Perjury in a Civil case by prohibiting a witness who is an interested party from testifying about communications History of the rule The rules of hearsay began to form properly in the late seventeenth century and had become fully established by the early nineteenth century Hearsay is the legal term that describes statements made outside of court or other judicial proceedings In the law of criminal evidence a confession means a statement by a suspect in crime which is adverse to that person The business records exception to the US hearsay rule is based on Rule 803(6 of the Federal Rules of Evidence (FRE An excited utterance, in the Law of evidence, is a statement made by a person in response to a startling or shocking event or condition In the Law of evidence, the dying declaration is Testimony that would normally be barred as Hearsay but may nonetheless be admitted as evidence Background The party admission, in the Law of evidence, is a type of statement that appears to be hearsay (an out of court statement but is An ancient document, in the Law of evidence, refers to both a means of authentication for a piece of Documentary evidence, and an exception to the Declarations against interest are an exception to the rule on hearsay in which a person's statement may be used where generally the content of the statement is so prejudicial A present sense impression, in the Law of evidence, is a statement made by a person (the Declarant) that conveys his or her sense of the state of an This article is for the legal term 'Res Gestae' For the article on the record of the accomplishments of the first Roman emperor Augustus see the article for Res Gestae Divi A learned treatise, in the Law of evidence, is a text that is sufficiently authoritiative in its field to be admissible as evidence in a Court in support In the law of evidence, an implied assertion is a statement or conduct that infers some fact A contract is an exchange of promises between two or more parties to do or refrain from doing an act which is enforceable in a court of law Tort law is the name given to a body of law that creates and provides remedies for civil wrongs that do not arise out of Contractual duties Property law is the area of Law that governs the various forms of Ownership in Real property (land as distinct from personal or movable possessions In Common law, a will or testament is a document by which a person (the Testator) regulates the rights of others over his or her Property The law of trusts and estates is generally considered the body of Law which governs the management of personal affairs and the Disposition of Property of The term criminal law, sometimes called penal law, refers to any of various bodies of rules in different Jurisdictions whose common characteristic is the potential Law is a system of rules enforced through a set of Institutions used as an instrument to underpin civil obedience politics economics and society The Law of evidence governs the use of Testimony (eg oral or written statements such as an Affidavit) and exhibits (e There are a number of ways that a witness may properly be impeached, and several ways that, although effective, are prohibited except under special circumstances.
A party may be impeached through introducing evidence of any of the following (remembered via the mnemonic BICCC):
Another form of impeachment by contradiction has a subtle effect on the order in which the attorneys present their evidence. A mock trial is a contrived or imitation trial. It is similar to Moot court, but mock trials deal with trials while moot court deals with Appellate court When a defense attorney calls a witness who testifies about what happened, this gives the opposing attorney the opportunity to present evidence contradicting that witness. Had impeachment by contradiction not been allowed by the rules of evidence, the second attorney would have been barred from presenting the contradicting evidence because he already had his one (and only) chance to prove the facts of the case as he claims them to be. But since his opponent put on a witness, this "opens the door" to him to strengthen his case by going again with more proof of what happened: the only legal excuse for this re-hash of his claim is that he is impeaching by contradiction his opponent's witness. Another use of impeachment by contradiction can be explained negatively: while an attorney cannot contradict an opponent's witness on a trivial ("collateral") fact, like the color of the hat she testified she was wearing on the day she witnessed the accident, on more important matters normally excluded by the rules of relevance, contradiction may be allowed. Thus, a witness might not normally be permitted to testify she is a safe driver, and the opponent cannot normally prove she is in general an unsafe driver, but should the witness nonetheless happen to testify she is a safe driver (say because no objection was made to the question), her opponent can now contradict her by eliciting on cross-examination that she has been involved in several accidents. Had contradiction impeachment not be permitted, then the unsafe character of the witness would have been barred by the rules of evidence. This impeachment-by-contradiction evidence is admitted solely to impeach, that is, cannot be used to prove anything about the events being litigated, but can only be used to discredit the witness's credibility. The theory is when a witness can be contradicted, that should be taken into account in determining the reliability of the witness. Hence, the jury is instructed by the judge "do not use [the impeachment evidence} as proof of any facts, but only to consider whether the witness in question should be believed. " All experienced courtroom observers agree that jurors will have great difficulty understanding this distinction, known as "limited admissibility" or "admissibility for a limited purpose". Even more unlikely is the prospect that a juror who understands the instruction will be psychologically capable of obeying it. The only practical impact of this limited admissibility is that the evidence cannot be used to prop up a weak case that would otherwise be dismissed by the court for insufficient evidence--because it was admitted only for the impeachment of a witness. P
Under the common law of England, a party could not impeach his own witness unless one of four special circumstances was met. Common law refers to law and the corresponding legal system developed through decisions of courts and similar tribunals rather than through legislative statutes or executive England is a Country which is part of the United Kingdom. Its inhabitants account for more than 83% of the total UK population whilst its mainland This was due to the Voucher Rule, which required that the proponent of the witness "vouche" for the truthfulness of the witness. The special circumstances were:
This rule has been eliminated in many jurisdications. Under the United States' Federal Rules of Evidence, (F. The United States of America —commonly referred to as the The Federal Rules of Evidence ( FRE) govern the admission of facts by which parties in the federal courts of the United States may prove their cases R. E. 607), any party may attack the credibility of any witness.
The general rule is that the proponent of a witness may not attempt to build up the witnesses credibility prior to his being impeached. The rationale is that the witness is presumed trustworthy. It also speeds proceedings by not spending time bolstering when the other side may not even impeach the witness.
In order to rehabilitate a witness, the proponent is confined to using the same techniques used by the opponent to impeach the witness. That is, if the opponent impeached via bias, then rehabilitation is limited to negating the claim of bias. If the opponent brought in a rebuttal witness who testified to the character of principal witness as that of a liar, rehabilitation is limited to a character witness who testifies principal witness is a truthful person. (Note: this is a different consideration from the ever-present right to cross-examine any witness, including character witnesses).
If the opponent showed the witness made a prior inconsistent statement and implies that after that statement and prior to trial the witness was "gotten to" or otherwise developed a motive to lie in court, rehabilitation can be attempted by showing that the witness made a prior consistent statement (consistent with the testimony) before the alleged events that gave rise to the alleged motive to lie. The jury is left with two pre-trial statements that are inconsistent with each other, but only one is inconsistent with the testimony, and both were made before the witness was allegedly gotten to, so there might be softening of the accusation that the testimony flows from, e. g. , a bribe. And there is always a case for allowing a prior consistent statement made at any time before trial to help explain away what is arguably only a seemingly inconsistent statement that is subject to interpretation because, e. g. , it was lifted out of explanatory context.