Litigation

Cross Examination of Police Agents

When police agents are your witness, a new strategy of cross examination is called for. Learn about the tactics here:


When police agents are your witness, a new strategy of cross examination is called for. Learn about the tactics here:

The cross-examination of police agents can be a challenging process that requires extensive preparation. The facts of the alleged offence, that the police agent claims to have observed, must be challenged. However, there is a need to put emphasis on the credibility of the police agent. These individuals normally are testifying in return for some benefit such a payment of money, a reduced sentence, withdrawn charges, or some other benefit. There is an inherent potential for this type of witness to believe that they need to embellish their evidence obtain their reward. These witnesses also normally come with criminal background even before they have agreed to assist authorities with testimony for a benefit. The following are some of the issues that you would want to explore in cross-examining police agents:

Motive/Expected Benefit

  • Pending charges-are they seeking the withdrawal or reduced sentence
  • Penalties facing- jail/ minimum sentence
  • Are they desperate to avoid returning to prison
  • Is there a formal agreement – paid money
    • Negotiation of deal/ how long/ what were discussions
    • What happens if he does not do his part
  • Immunity from crimes not yet charges with/ agree not to prosecute
  • Promise not to prosecute family member / threats to charges others
  • Seeking favourable prison treatment
  • Were they in jail at time of deal
  • Released on bail / or bail conditions changed
  • Deportation
  • Timing of agreement-(coercive interview, learning of potential for lengthy sentence)
  • Who decides if met obligation (prosecutor)

Personal Bias / Animosity

  • Hostility to accused
  • Acts of intimidation to other witnesses
  • Gang rivalry
  • Relationship with state witnesses/ police officers

Criminal Convictions

    • Details of prior crimes
    • Were they a career criminal
    • Relevant information from sentence hearings
    • Any evidence of presenting false information at past sentence hearings
    • Evidence of dishonesty/deceptive behaviour to avoid detection, during past offences

(ie. counter-surveillance against police, hiding proceeds of crime, using other persons to transport contraband)

Inconsistent Statements

  • Material inconsistent statements relating to the facts of the case

Influenced by Others

  • Access to information (other cooperating witnesses, other inmates in jail, disclosure/ discovery)
  • Preparation with prosecutor, police (number of hours, number of meetings, prosecutor/ police ever upset with them in meetings, evidence changed during meetings)
  • Did their lawyer attend preparation meetings/ or were they satisfied prosecutor acting in their interests

Mental Health History

  • Is there evidence of mental health problems

Alcohol and Drug Abuse

  • Is there evidence of alcohol or drug abuse

If Cooperation with Police was after the Offence

  • What involvement in the offence did they have
  • Were they present at the time of the offence
  • On their version did they actively participate somehow
  • On their version did they fail to intervene
  • On their version did they assist in attempting to cover up the offence
  • Did they have a motive to commit the offence themselves
  • Did they have a motive to downplay their role

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