Being represented by a criminal law attorney is a must if you are to fight against being convicted of a crime. There are some situations, though, that call for defendants to make a decision on their own. When it comes to taking the stand during a trial, it's up to you—although your lawyer can advise you on what seems best. This ability to either testify on your own behalf or stay put at the defense table can be more complicated than might, at first, appear, so read on to find out more.
What to Know About This Right
Unless they've been in your place, the question of whether or not to testify can seem puzzling. One perception is probably related to the issue of choice. When most people find themselves sitting in the witness box, chances are they had no choice. Most people called to the stand do so by way of subpoena. If you refuse to take the stand, you can be arrested and charged with contempt of court. That is one thing that makes the situation so unique, though. The defendant in a trial is the only one who has a choice—they cannot be compelled to testify.
A False Perception of Guilt
Unfortunately, many can't help but think that those who don't take the stand must be trying to hide something. After all, if you are innocent then why would you pass up the opportunity to sit there and plead your case? Another common issue with a defendant testifying is that the audience, the lawyers, the judge, and especially the jury want to hear what happened from the person charged with the crime. They want to have them clear up discrepancies, explain motivations, give excuses, and even, in some cases, to break down on the stand and confess. Too many have watched courtroom dramas, it seems.
When Not to Testify
Speaking of courtroom dramas, not everyone is comfortable speaking in front of an audience under extremely stressful circumstances. Your attorney may evaluate you and judge your ability to answer questions under the duress. You should also understand what might happen after you take the stand and utter your first words. As you speak, you are giving up your right not to testify. That means you can now be asked to return to the stand time and time again and be questioned about the facts of the case. If you are nervous, if you are uncomfortable, or if you have any undesirable habits or appearance issues, you take the chance that you will negatively influence a juror's opinion of your guilt or innocence.
Speak to your criminal attorney to learn more about testifying on your own behalf.Share
11 December 2019
Growing up in a law enforcement family, I learned a lot about how arrests take place, what goes into investigations, and more. That gave me a really unique insight when it comes to criminal defense options and the areas where there may be vulnerabilities or loopholes that can be used in court. I've done a lot of research into the legalities of criminal defense as well, so it's allowed me to merge the two and create a site that offers a comprehensive look at criminal defense options and the court's expectations. It's always best to work with a lawyer, but having an understanding of the basics first will help.