Hostile Witness Definition and Legal Meaning

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

What is Hostile Witness?

(n) Hostile Witness is the person who was included as the witness of a party to a law suit who turned against them changing his or her stand and the judge determines them as hostile to the position of the party.

History and Meaning of Hostile Witness

A hostile witness is someone who has been called to testify in a trial or hearing, but fails to give truthful, honest, or helpful answers to the questions asked of them. This can sometimes happen when the witness has a bias against the person calling them to testify, or simply does not want to be involved in the case. The concept of a hostile witness has been an important one in the legal system for many years, as it helps ensure that witnesses are truthful and provide useful information to the court.

Examples of Hostile Witness

Here are a few examples of situations where a witness might be deemed to be hostile:

  • An eyewitness who saw something important happen but refuses to answer questions in court.
  • A friend or family member of the defendant who was called as a character witness, but turns against the defendant during questioning.
  • An expert witness who was hired by one side of a case, but appears to be biased against that side and refuses to provide helpful answers.

Legal Terms Similar to Hostile Witness

Here are a few related legal terms that you might come across:

  • Perjury: When a witness gives false testimony under oath.
  • Leading question: A question that suggests the answer the person asking the question wants to hear.
  • Inadmissible: Evidence that is not allowed to be presented in court.