Ask a Question, I’m paying you! Criminal Defense & the Power of Silence

WhyLast week in court my client tapped me on the shoulder and asked why I wasn’t asking more questions of the arresting officer. While the trial ended with great result for the client, this presented a great opportunity for me to again educate him and my blog readers on the power of silence during a criminal trial.  Our firmly strongly believes in educating its clients and we encourage you and them to join our mailing list for regular updates.

It’s always important to keep in your mind that the burden is always on the prosecution and your criminal defense attorney doesn’t always need to ask a question to make a point with a judge or jury. This advice applies to any crime, DUIDrugs, Guns or any other misdemeanor or felony offense in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and beyond.

There is always some degree of risk when a criminal defense lawyer asks a prosecution’s witness a question. Even if the lawyer is sure of the response, there is always the potential that the question will cause the district attorney to rethink a line of questions or perhaps revisit an area that he failed to address during direct examination

The district attorney can only establish the elements of crime beyond a reasonable doubt through questions unless your attorney stipulates to a piece of evidence. If they DA fails to ask the question, he or she may miss an element. This presents a golden opportunity for your criminal defense lawyer to NOT ask a question. If your attorney, however, chooses to ask a question to simply reinforce a DA’s missing element, it will, in most cases, trigger a follow up line of questioning to readdress that missing issue.

You are paying your criminal defense lawyer for his knowledge and not for questions! Sometimes the best strategy is not to ask a question. When something is not asked, it may actually make your attorney’s argument during closing stronger. Personally, my strongest argument come when I can point out to a judge or jury what wasn’t brought out during a trial by the prosecution. Remember that the prosecution gets the final word during closing arguments. It is much harder for them to argue against something they failed to do during a trial.

Criminal trials aren’t always determined on who asks the better questions. Now there are times when a proper cross examination of the prosecution’s witness is necessary but never underestimate the power of silence in a criminal trial.
We have come to the end of the first month of 2016 already. If your criminal defense isn’t headed in the right direction, try reading one of my books or watching one of my videos. I wish you continued success with your criminal case.