What is Examination?

Legal Definition
Crim. law. By the common law no one is bound to accuse himself. Nemo tenetur prodere seipsum. In England, by the statutes of Philip and Mary, (1 & 2 P. & M. c. 13; 2 & 3 P. & M. c. 10,) the principles of which have been adopted in several of the United States, the justices before whom any person shall be brought, charged with any of the crimes therein mentioned, shall take the examination of the prisoner, as well is that of the witnesses, in writing, which the magistrates shall subscribe, and deliver to the officer of the court where the trial is to be had. The signature of the prisoner, when not specially required by statute, is not indispensable, though it is proper to obtain it, when it can be obtained. 1 Chit. Cr. Law, 87; 2 Leach, Cr. Cas. 625.

2. It will be proper to consider, 1. The requisites of such examination. 2. How it is to be proved. 3. Its effects.

3. - 1. It is required that it should, 1st. Be voluntarily made, without any compulsion of any kind; and, 2d. It must be reduced to writing. 1st. The law is particularly solicitous to let the prisoner be free in making declarations in his examination; and if the prisoner has not been left entirely free, or did not consider himself to be so, or if he did not feel at liberty wholly to decline any explanation or declaration whatever, the examination is not considered voluntary, and the writing cannot be read in evidence against him, nor can parol evidence be received of what the prisoner said on the occasion. 5 C. & P. 812; 7 C. & P. 177; 1 Stark. R. 242; 6 Penn. Law Journ. 120. The prisoner, of course, cannot be sworn, and make his statement under oath. Bull. N. P. 242; 4 Hawk. P. C. book 2, c. 46, §37; 4 C. & P. 564. 2a. The statute requires that the examination shall be reduced to writing, or so much as may be material, and the law presumes the magistrate did his duty and took down all that was material. Joy on Conf. 89-92; 1 Greenl. Ev. §227. The prisoner need not sign the examination so reduced to writing, to give it validity; but, if being asked to sign it, he absolutely refuse, it will be considered incomplete. 2 Stark. R. 483; 2 Leach, Cr. Cas. 627, n.

4. - 2. The certificate of the magistrate is conclusive evidence of the manner in which the examination was conducted. 7 C. & P. 177; 9 C. & P. 124; 1 Stark. R. 242. Before it can be given in evidence, its identity must be proved, as well as the identity of the prisoner. When the prisoner has signed the examination, proof of his handwriting is sufficient evidence that he has read it; but if he has merely made his mark, or not signed it at all, the magistrate or clerk must identify the prisoner, and prove that the writing was duly read to him, and that he assented to it. l Greenl. Ev. §520; 1 M. & Rob. 395.

5. - 3. The effect of such an examination, when properly taken and proved, is sufficient to found a conviction. 1 Greenl. Ev. §216.
-- Bouviers Law Dictionary
Legal Definition
Practice. The interrogation of a witness, in order to ascertain his knowledge as to the facts in dispute between parties. When the examination is made by the party who called the witness, it is called an examination in chief. When it is made by the other party, it is known by the name of cross-examination. (q. v.)

2. The examination is to be made in open court, when practicable; but when,: on account of age, sickness, or other cause, the witness cannot be so examined, then it may be made before authorized commissioners. In the examination in chief the counsel cannot ask leading questions, except in particular cases. Vide Cross-examination; Leading question.

3. The laws of the several states require the private examination of a feme covert before a competent officer, in order to pass her title to her own real estate or the interest she has in that of her husband: as to the mode in which this is to be done, see Acknowledment. See, also, 3 Call, R. 394; 5 Mason's R. 59; 1 Hill, R. 110; 4 Leigh, R. 498; 2 Gill & John. 1; 3 Rand. R. 468 1 Monr. R. 49; 3 Monr. R. 397; 1 Edw. R. 572; 3 Yerg. R. 548 1 Yerg. R. 413 3 J. J. Marsh. R. 241 2 A. K. Marsh. R. 67; 6 Wend. R. 9; 1 Dall. 11, 17; 3 Yeates, R. 471; 8 S. & R. 299; 4 S. & R. 273.
-- Bouviers Law Dictionary
Legal Definition
An investigation; search; interrogating. In trial practice. The examination of a witness consiste of the series of questions put to him by a party to the action, or his counsel, for the purpose of bringing before the court and jury in legal form the knowledge which the witness has of the facts and matters in dispute, or of probing and sifting his evidence previously given. In criminal practice. An investigation by a magistrate of a person who has been charged with crime and arrested, or of the facts and circumstances which are alleged to have attended the crime and to fasten suspicion upon the party so charged, in order to ascortain whether there is sufficient ground to hold him to bail for his trial by the proper court. U. S. v. Stanton, 70 Fed. 890, 17 C. C. A. 475; State v. Conrad, 95 N. O. 669.
-- Black's Law Dictionary
Legal Definition
An investigation; the questioning of a witness. See, also, Preliminary examination.
-- Ballentine's Law Dictionary