TRIAL TIPS AND TECHNIQUES for Police
1. TELL THE TRUTH. Honesty is the best policy. Telling the truth requires a witness
testify accurately as to what he knows. If you tell the truth and are accurate, you
have nothing to fear on cross examination.
2. Provide your professional Curriculum Vitae to the prosecutor and, if requested,
bring it to court with you.
3. READ YOUR INCIDENT REPORT prior to arrival at court. Go over the details and
refresh your memory of the events of the arrest. If you cannot locate a copy of your
report, ask the prosecutor prior to the court date.
4. Dress neatly and professionally; leave sunglasses, gloves, flashlight and other
cumbersome equipment in your car before coming into the courtroom, unless
needed for a demonstration.
5. Do not guess the answer to any question asked. It is OKAY to say “I don’t know” or
“I can’t remember” in response to questions. Do not give the impression that you
are guessing the answer by prefacing your response with “I think” or “I believe.” If
you do not know the answer, it is okay to look at your report and refresh your
memory. Always give definitive, positive, sure answers.
6. Listen carefully to the question asked. Do not begin your answer until the attorney
has finished asking the question. Be sure you understand the question before you
attempt to give an answer. It is appropriate if you don’t understand the question to
say “I don’t understand your question.” If necessary, ask that the question be
repeated or rephrased.
7. Take your time. Do not feel pressured to give a quick answer. Take time after the
question is asked to think before you answer. After a question is asked, there may
be an objection. When you hear the word, “objection,” stop testifying.
8. Answer the question that is asked, then stop. Do not volunteer information not
asked. Explain an answer if you feel your answer appears ambiguous or
incomplete. You are always permitted to explain your answer. Tell the prosecutor
prior to your testimony if there is anything you feel they do not know about the case.
9. Always be professional in the courthouse. Jurors could be anywhere at any time.
10. Speak loud and clear so that you can be easily heard.
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11. Look at the judge/jury when testifying. Always make eye contact with who you are
trying to convince. During a bench trial, look at the judge. During a jury trial, look at
the jury. This applies even when the attorney asking the question is not standing
near the judge or jury box. Always talk to the judge or jury and maintain eye
contact with them, even if it feels unnatural.
12. Always be courteous, even when the defense attorney is not. Control your
emotions, and never allow yourself to be drawn into an argument. Remember, the
best way to make a good impression with the judge/jury is to be courteous and
professional. You were just doing your job during the arrest, and presenting the
facts in court as they occurred.
13. Testify in plain language. Do not say, “The perpetrator exited the vehicle” when in
reality “the defendant got out of his car.” The person on trial is never a “lady” or
“gentlemen,” but is always “the defendant.” Do not use military times without
clarifying the time in laymen’s terms. Do not use call signals. It makes more sense
to the jury when you speak the same language they do.
14. It is the best practice to discuss the case with the prosecutor before trial. A defense
attorney may ask if you’ve had a pretrial conference with the prosecutor. Tell the
truth. Preparation for court is acceptable. Be straight forward in answering all
15. Always tell the truth. No case is worth sacrificing your credibility.
HS 178 R5/13 28 of 31 Source: DWI Detection and
March 2013 Edition