Examination Definition and Legal Meaning

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

What is Examination?

n. 1) the questioning of a witness by an attorney. Direct examination is interrogation by the attorney who called the witness, and cross-examination is questioning by the opposing attorney. A principal difference is that an attorney putting questions to his own witness cannot ask “leading” questions, which put words in the mouth of the witness or suggest the answer, while on cross-examination he/she can pose a question that seems to contain an answer or suggest language for the witness to use or agree to. 2) in bankruptcy, the questions asked of a debtor by the judge, trustee in bankruptcy, attorneys or even creditors, to determine the state of the debtor’s affairs. 3) in criminal law, a preliminary examination is a hearing before a judge or other magistrate to determine whether a defendant charged with a felony should be held for trial. Usually this is held by a lower court and if there is any substantial evidence to show a felony has been committed by the defendant he/she is bound over to the appropriate court for trial, but otherwise the charge will be dismissed by the judge.

History and Meaning of Examination

Examination is a legal term that refers to the questioning of a witness by an attorney. There are two types of examinations: direct and cross-examination. Direct examination is conducted by the attorney who called the witness, while cross-examination is conducted by the opposing attorney. The purpose of examination is to elicit testimony from the witness which can be used as evidence in court.

Examples of Examination

  1. During the trial, the prosecutor conducted a thorough cross-examination of the defendant's alibi witness, revealing inconsistencies in the witness's story.
  2. The bankruptcy judge conducted an examination of the debtor's finances to determine how much they owed to their creditors.
  3. At the preliminary examination, the judge determined that there was enough evidence to hold the defendant for trial.

Legal Terms Similar to Examination

  1. Interrogation: The act of questioning a witness, suspect, or defendant in a legal case.
  2. Deposition: Testimony taken under oath outside of court, typically given by a witness or party to a lawsuit.
  3. Discovery: The process of gathering evidence in a legal case through methods such as depositions and interrogations.