How to Discredit the Prosecution’s Star Witness in Your Florida Criminal Trial

Any time you are facing criminal charges and the prosecution’s case relies very heavily on the testimony of one person, one potentially very effective – and successful — defense is to give the jury persuasive reasons to decide that the state’s witness is lying and should not be believed. When that happens, that evidence may be enough to convince the jury that your testimony is more credible than the state’s witness’s testimony. To do that, though, you need to amass the right kind of proof and you need to know how to argue for its admissibility. This is one area among many where a skilled Pinellas County criminal defense attorney can help you to present a complete picture and a vigorous defense presentation to the jury.

Those persuasive reasons why a prosecution witness might be lying are called evidence of the witness’s “bias.” Witness bias was the key issue in one St. Petersburg man’s criminal case recently. The man, B.P., was a homeowner who rented space in his house to a tenant, J.L. One night, the pair visited a jazz club together. On the way home, the two had an argument that became heated and J.L. ended up out of the van and on the ground. B.P. said J.L. fell out of the van, but J.L. said B.P. pushed her. After J.L.’s exit from the van, B.P. ran over her arm and went home. A jury eventually convicted B.P. of aggravated battery.

B.P.’s legal team succeeded in getting the conviction overturned on appeal. The accused man’s successful appeal is a useful reminder of how helpful witness bias evidence can be, especially in cases where the majority of the state’s evidence is witness testimony. In B.P.’s case, his legal team prepared to introduce evidence that J.L. only agreed to cooperate with the prosecution and to give damaging testimony against B.P. after B.P. evicted her.

The appeals court concluded that this proof was admissible. Florida law says that any party can attack any witness’s credibility by demonstrating “that the witness is biased” and also that criminal defendants on trial should be given “wide latitude” in showing a prosecution witness’s bias. This can include evidence of the witness’s “interest, motives, animus, or status in relation to the proceeding.” J.L.’s hostility and unhappiness with B.P. for his having evicted her could definitely qualify as “motive” or “animus.”

J.L. was the state’s only witness against B.P. who was present at the scene when the injury happened and the only one who could contradict B.P.’s testimony regarding how the injury occurred. Evidence that J.L. continued to live at B.P.’s house and only agreed to aid prosecutors after B.P. evicted her “clearly indicates the type of bias or motive to lie contemplated by” Florida law, so it clearly was admissible proof.

Sometimes, your criminal case may rise and fall on a single prosecution witness, or else on a single prosecution witness’s testimony versus your testimony as the defendant. When that happens, giving the jury good reasons to doubt the state’s witness’s truthfulness can often be extremely beneficial in creating reasonable doubt. Whatever evidence your case needs to create that reasonable doubt and produce an acquittal, rely on the knowledgeable Tampa Bay criminal defense attorneys at Blake & Dorsten, P.A. If you’re on trial, you need the best in experienced and aggressive attorneys going “to bat” for you. Call us today at (727) 286-6141 to schedule your FREE initial consultation.

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