If you were arrested and charged with a criminal offense in Nebraska you have the right to have your case tried before a judge or a jury. If you decide to take your case to trial the State of Nebraska, through the prosecuting attorney, must prove you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in order for the judge or jury to convict you of the offense for which you are charged. In order to do that, the State may introduce physical evidence at trial and/or may rely on the testimony of witnesses. One question many defendants have when a law enforcement officer is listed as a witness is “Is a cop’s word evidence in court ?”
The simple answer to that question may not be all that simple. In a criminal investigation it is common for several law enforcement officers to be directly involved in the investigation. Officers may collect physical evidence, talk to witnesses and/or victims, or even question a suspect. When it comes time for a case to go to trial, the prosecuting attorney may then rely on those law enforcement officers to testify with regard to their role in the investigation. In some cases a cop’s testimony is needed to explain how or where physical evidence was uncovered. It may also be used to establish why the investigation was initiated in the first place. Sometimes though, an officer is asked to testify regarding things the officer directly saw or heard. For example, in a prosecution for driving under the influence, or DUI, an officer may be asked to testify to the driving behavior the officer witnessed prior to pulling over the defendant. An officer might also be asked to testify regarding statements made by the defendant that are potentially incriminating.
Ideally, the State will have physical evidence and additional witnesses to support its case against the defendant; however, sometimes a cop’s word is the best, or the only, evidence the State has against a defendant. Regardless of how important an officer’s testimony is, the bottom line is that it can be evidence in court. So can yours though, as can the word of other witnesses for the State or for the defense. How much weight is attached to a cop’s testimony, or that of any other witness, is a question for the jury to decide after hearing the testimony. In other words, the jury (or judge in the case of a bench trial) decides whether or not to believe a cop’s word if the cop testifies at trial.
If you have been charged with a criminal offense in Nebraska that involves a cop testifying and you are concerned about his/her testimony, contact Petersen Criminal Defense Law 24 hours a day at 402-509-8070 to discuss your case with an experienced criminal defense attorney.