By Lawrence Black
Cross examination will be a very important aspect to beating your speeding ticket. Actually, it's the ONLY way to beat your ticket.
If you choose not to question the police officer then you will never win your case. The judge will find you guilty, impose the fines and send you on your way.
It's essential that you have some good cross examination techniques before you walk into the courtroom.
One popular concern among my visitors is just how scary is it to challenge a police officer on the stand?
I know the notion of standing up in court and questioning the police officer may seem frightening to some, but I assure you it isn't even close to what you are probably thinking.
Most of the reluctance comes from numerous court television shows, such as Law and Order, Matlock and Perry Mason.
Traffic court trials are absolutely nothing like what you see on television.
If you ask the right questions, usually the trial doesn't last for more than a few minutes. It can't last any longer because if the police officer doesn't have what you are asking for, the trial ends right there.
With that being said, I think you will agree that knowing how to handle a proper cross examination is essential to ending the trial quickly and winning your case.
Before I go any further, let me tell you that you can't put up much of a defense if you don't first know what the officer is going to say during his testimony.
All officers go through the same routine when it comes to testifying against a defendant with a speeding ticket. Their testimonies usually last about a minute or so.
Of all the things the officer will testify to, you are going to concentrate on only one for your cross examination: the notion that the speed measuring device used to clock your speed was accurate at the time it was used.
It will often only be this testimony you will 'attack' during your questioning.
Your whole defense strategy lies on whether or not you can prove the officer wrong. And this takes very minimal effort.
When the officer is finished with his testimony, the judge will then turn to you and ask you if you would like to cross examine the police officer.
You will reply 'Yes Your Honor', and place your notes that you made the night before in front of you. You are allowed to read directly from your notes, so there is nothing for you to memorize.
You will then begin asking a couple of questions. Each question is specifically designed to damage the officer's testimony that his speed detecting unit was accurate during the time he used it on you.
The exact questions depend on a number things. Here are some important ones that determine what you will ask the officer:
These are some of the main points to consider when formulating a strong cross examination before you can create your questions.
Once you've answered each of the five issues above, knowing what questions to ask become easy.
As already mentioned, your goal is to discredit the officer's testimony that his speed device was operating accurately. However, this does not mean you have to prove it.
On the contrary, the burden of proof lies with the officer. He's the one who has to prove that his speed detecting unit (radar, laser, VASCAR, etc.) was accurate at the time he used it on you.
The following will give you some additional pointers:
Of course, preparation is key, but you'd be surprised to learn how many people fail to perform this most basic task. I don't think I have to explain to you the importance of preparation.
A person must prepare because the judge will assess your depth of knowledge and commitment to the case by the demonstrated ability to handle the details of cross-examination. Thorough preparation also will ensure that the judge appreciates your competence.
Going to court without any notes is a brainless decision. I don't care how good your memory is, you won't be able to remember everything there is to remember. It's best to write your notes on note cards.
Your objective is to focus on one thing: the accuracy of the speed device. This is the whole basis for cross examining the police officer. You are trying to damage his testimony and make the speed device seem a lot less accurate then it may have been.
You must know when your line of questioning isn't getting anywhere. If the officer seems to have an answer for everything, you must have a back up plan and move on to something else.
Not only that, but there are other times you should know when to quit. You should quit as soon as you have discredited the police officer. There's no need to over do it. Just make your point and move on. The more you keep pushing at the issue, the more likely the officer can make a comeback.
Your audience is the judge. It is up to you to persuade the judge into dismissing the case. Following these pointers should help you do just that.
Avoid comments or direct accusations. Now is not the time. You only want to ask questions and damage the officer's testimony.
Asking questions not specific to the case or the officer's testimony will be stricken from the record.
To discover exactly what questions to ask the officer and almost guarantee a dismissal, get your speeding ticket cross examinations here.
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