testimony | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Evidence Law

Testimony in the criminal justice context refers to oral or written evidence given under oath by a witness or victim in a court of law.

Testimony is an important part of the criminal justice process, as it provides the court with evidence that can be used to determine the guilt or innocence of a defendant. Testimony can be given by witnesses who have observed the crime or by victims who have been directly affected by it.

In order for testimony to be admissible in court, it must be given under oath and be based on the witness’s personal knowledge of the events in question. Witnesses may be asked to testify in criminal cases by the prosecution, the defense, or the court.

Witnesses who are called to testify in criminal cases may be subject to cross-examination by the opposing counsel. This process involves questioning the witness’s credibility and reliability and may involve challenging the witness’s memory or interpretation of events.

The credibility of a witness’s testimony is often a key factor in criminal trials. Factors that may affect the credibility of a witness include their personal biases or prejudices, their relationship to the defendant or victim, and their ability to recall events accurately.

In some cases, witnesses may be reluctant to testify in criminal trials due to fears of retribution or other concerns. In such cases, the court may take steps to protect the witness’s identity or provide other forms of support to ensure that they are able to testify effectively.

Testimony can also take the form of written statements, such as police reports or affidavits. Such statements may be used as evidence in court if they are deemed to be reliable and based on the witness’s personal knowledge of the events in question.

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Last Modified: 03/14/2023


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