Your Rights in Trial: Calling on Witnesses

Your Rights in Trial: Calling on WitnessesAnyone who has been charged with a crime has a number of rights in trial that they must protect. Most people are familiar with some of these rights, such as the right to a speedy and public trial. However, one of the lesser-known rights protected by the U.S. Constitution involves a defendant’s right to call on witnesses during a criminal trial.

Right to Obtain Witnesses

The Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution grants criminal defendants the right to obtain witnesses in their favor. Basically, this means every criminal defendant has the right to call his own witnesses to the stand for questioning during a trial. These witnesses can include alibies, experts, bystanders, and anyone else who can testify in support of the defendant’s case.

The prosecution has the right to cross-examine these witnesses even though they were called to the stand by the defense. During the cross-examination, the prosecution will attempt to weaken the defense’s case by questioning the reliability or plausibility of the witness’s testimony. Therefore, it is important for these witnesses to prepare to answer questions from both sides.

Right to Confront Witnesses

Another right that is guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment is the right to confront witnesses during a criminal trial. This simply means that every criminal defendant has the right to be present at his trial and the right to cross-examine the prosecution’s witnesses. The right to confront witnesses was established to prevent convictions based solely on written evidence. Instead, witnesses must take the stand and face both the defendant and the jury while under oath.

The right to cross-examine the prosecution’s witnesses is incredibly important in criminal trials. Since the prosecution has the right to cross-examine the defense’s witnesses, this criminal right levels the playing field.

A defendant cannot be denied his right to confront witnesses, however the judge can limit this right under certain circumstances. For example, the judge may allow minor victims of abuse to appear as witnesses via closed circuit television so they do not have to face their alleged assailant face-to-face.

Witnesses play a significant role in every criminal defendant’s case, so the importance of the defendant’s right to call and confront witnesses cannot be overstated.

If you are facing criminal charges, the attorneys at The Missouri DWI & Criminal Law Center can help. Our experienced criminal defense attorneys will ensure your rights are protected at all times as we fight for your freedom. Call our office at 816-322-8008, email us at or fill out our confidential online form to schedule a consultation today.

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