Preparing for Cross-Examination

By Amy Little

What happens in a cross-examination?

Cross-examination is when a witness is asked questions by the other person or lawyer in the case. One reason for cross-examination is to test the witness’ evidence. Another reason is to obtain evidence which the witness did not give and which may favour the other person.

Helpful guidelines if you are a witness

Being a witness can be a very stressful experience. Cross-examination is a process whereby your evidence is put to the test, to see whether you have been truthful.

Below are some guidelines to assist you in preparing for cross-examination.

  1. Answer each question truthfully.
  2. Listen carefully to the whole question. Think about the question and answer it by saying no more than what is necessary.
  3. Answer only the question that is asked. Do not answer other questions that you think you might be asked and do not offer any opinions about the matter.
  4. If you do not hear the whole question or are not sure that you did, ask for it to be repeated.
  5. If you do not understand a question, say so, and the person or lawyer will re-phrase the question so it is easier for you to understand.
  6. If you do not remember something, say so.
  7. Never argue with or ask questions of the cross-examiner.
  8. If you can answer a question by simply saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’, answer it in that way.
  9. Speak slowly and clearly.
  10. Do not bring any paperwork (i.e. your affidavit/statement) with you into the witness box. Only if the court permits are you allowed to read your affidavit to refresh your memory.
  11. If you are feeling unwell or upset and require a short break, ask the Judge.
  12. Your evidence is recorded through the microphone in front of you so always make sure to speak your answers, as gestures such as nodding or shaking your head can not be recorded.

DA Family Lawyers are highly experienced in representing clients at trials, either directly as solicitor advocates or by instructing a barrister.  If you want expert assistance, we are here to help.