During a cross-examination, the opposing party questions the witness. Generally, a witness is initially questioned by the party that called them to the stand on direct examination. Afterwards, the opposing party has the opportunity to question the witness on cross-examination, often using targeted or leading questions. Cross-examination gives the opposing party an opportunity to point out the weaknesses of a witness’s testimony, like holes in their story or a lack of credibility. However, the attorney conducting the cross-examination may not ask questions outside of scope of the direct examination. In other words, the attorney may not raise issues that go beyond the subject matter of the witness’s initial testimony. After the cross-examination, the party that called the witness to the stand may choose to conduct a redirect examination.
[Last updated in May of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]