Sex Offense: Credibility Evidence


Although evidence that supports the credibility of witness in a sex crime trial is not admissible unless it is used in a direct rebuttal to other specific testimony, some creditability evidence can still be utilized by both the state and the defense in sex offense trials. An experienced sex crime lawyer will be able to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of credibility evidence, and the difference between relevant and admissible evidence, and evidence that solely attacks the credibility of a witness and cannot be used in a criminal case.

In a sex offense trial, eyewitnesses and testimony from the alleged victim are often the most critical pieces of the state’s case. Because most sex offense trials lack physical evidence, it is very important for the state to establish that their witnesses are credible, and that the story the alleged victim presents is indeed true. One of the main focuses of the defense team should be to counter these claims, and in turn prove that the defendant is a credible source of what really happened. With the restrictions on credibility evidence that exist in Michigan sex crime cases, this can be difficult for both sides, and understanding exactly what can be used and how it can be best used to benefit your case is critical to achieving the best possible case result.

Credibility Evidence Used by the State

The prosecution and the witnesses for the prosecution may attack or support the credibility of a witness by using a number of different tactics. First, the state can utilize generally agreed upon testimony about a certain class of people, such as younger children or the mentally retarded, to support or attack the credibility of a witness. For example, the state may attempt to prove that a person should be able to remember, or may not be able to remember, a certain event taking place, because of his or her age. In addition, the state may use any physical evidence that exists to support the credibility of a witness, or attack the testimony of a witness for the defense, either by demonstrating that the evidence is consistent or inconsistent with the testimony given.

Generalizations about certain symptoms a person may exhibit may also be used as a form of credibility evidence. For example, an expert witness may claim that sexual abuse victims display certain characteristics, and then claim that the alleged victim in the case exhibits those characteristics; therefore their story of what happened is likely true.

Because the prosecution’s case can rely on credibility evidence, it is equally important for the defense to establish whether or not witnesses are credible. An experienced defense lawyer will know the tactics that are effective in presenting credibility evidence before a Michigan criminal court.

Credibility Evidence Used by the Defense

There are also a number of ways the defense can present an opinion on the credibility of a witness in a sex offense case. One way in which a defense attorney can do this is by demonstrating the general tendencies of a witness to either tell the truth or lie. For example, if a defendant has lied about sex crime charges in the past, it could seriously undermine his or her credibility. If a child, when questioned, exhibits a tendency to lie, the jury may have less of a reason to believe his or her account of the events. Likewise, a defense lawyer can also show that a defendant has a tendency to make things up, something that is especially evident in cases involving children. Although a child may be telling the truth, the inability to distinguish between reality and fantasy can speak to the credibility of that child.

The defense can also attempt to show that the witness suffers from a mental condition, drug influence, or another physical or mental impairment that may affect his or her perception of events, or memory. In addition, testimony that demonstrates someone else manipulated the testimony of the alleged victim can change the court’s view of his or her credibility.

Defend Against Sex Crime Conviction in MI

No matter what the specific details of your case, it is essential that you understand the rules pertaining to evidence in Michigan, as well as the strategies involved in using evidence to achieve a favorable result. Contact Grabel & Associates now to speak with a Michigan sex crime defense attorney, call 1-800-342-7896 or contact us online to get started.