Direct Examination Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Direct Examination, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Direct Examination?

n. During a trial or deposition, the initial questioning of a witness. This is distinguishable from cross-examination from opposing attorneys and redirect examination when the original attorney questions the witness again.

History and Meaning of Direct Examination

Direct examination refers to the initial questioning of a witness during a trial or deposition. The purpose of this type of examination is to elicit testimony from the witness to support the case of the examining attorney. The questioning is conducted by the attorney who called the witness to testify.

The direct examination is an important part of a trial since it allows the attorney to introduce relevant evidence and establish the facts of the case. The questions asked during the examination must be open-ended and not leading to ensure that the witness gives a truthful and accurate account of the events under consideration.

Examples of Direct Examination

  1. In a criminal trial, the prosecution may conduct a direct examination of a witness who claims to have seen the defendant committing the crime.

  2. In a personal injury case, the plaintiff's attorney may call a medical expert to testify about the extent of the plaintiff's injuries. The expert may be questioned during the direct examination about their qualifications and findings.

  3. During a divorce proceeding, one of the spouses may be called to testify about the reasons for the breakdown of the marriage. The direct examination will allow their attorney to establish pertinent information such as dates and events.

Legal Terms Similar to Direct Examination

  1. Cross-examination: This is the questioning of a witness by the opposing attorney after the direct examination has been completed.

  2. Redirect examination: This is the questioning of a witness by the attorney who conducted the direct examination to clarify any issues that may have arisen during cross-examination.

  3. Leading questions: These are questions that suggest the desired answer and are not allowed during direct examination since they can lead to the witness testifying inaccurately.