How Witnesses Should Testify in Court

How Witnesses Should Testify in Court

Posted On - January 20th, 2016 | By Tim Clancy | Category - Uncategorized
Witness testimony can be crucial in the court’s determination of innocence or guilt. Without DNA evidence or video surveillance of the crime itself, it may be the only way to receive the desired verdict. A case can hinge on how a witness presents them self and their story to the jury and judge. Have a positive influence on the case with these tips on witness testimony.

Take Time to Review Events

Prior to testifying, visualize everything that you can remember. This includes the scene of the crime, any objects, distances and the sequence of events and individuals involved. You can practice this beforehand alone or when speaking with your legal representative, but your responses should not come across as “pat”. If you cannot recall an exact period of time or distance, give them an estimate and say it is an estimate. Attorneys may try to offer up exact times but do not agree to them if you cannot remember it yourself. Do not be coerced to agree to any fact in this situation, as it can be used to paint you as an unreliable witness if disproved.

Do Not Talk About the Case

It is appropriate to speak to police officers, prosecutors or family members before testifying and it is best to be frank and honest about doing so and with whom you spoke if asked, “Have you talked to anybody about this case?” When you are done testifying, do not share what you said with other witnesses until the case is over. Jurors may also be around you in public areas during a trial. They can be influenced if anything is disclosed and any untoward behavior demonstrated while outside of the courtroom.

Avoid Volunteering Information

Any addition information that is offered may be cross-examined and may not help the case. The judge and jury only need to hear facts that you have observed or have knowledge about. Any conjecture is unnecessary.

Adhere to Courtroom Rules

When questioned by the defense, do not look around at the judge or any parties for help in forming a response. Without any objections raised, you are on the stand to clearly address any questions. The AUSA will object to any improper questions. If the judge interrupts you or an attorney makes an objection, stop and wait. Continue speaking when the judge tells you to do so.

Be Truthful

You have been sworn in to tell the truth. Not doing so is considered perjury, and is a crime in itself. Be honest about what you have actually seen or heard and do not exaggerate anything. If you have made a mistake in your testimony, admit it and share the information that you need to. You are human and judges and juries will understand if under the stress of testifying you forgot an important detail or couldn’t clearly recall at the moment when asked a question. Honestly correcting any mistakes will ensure consistent testimony.

Clancy & Clancy Attorney at Law is your experienced criminal defense law firm. Residents in and around the Dallas, Texas area can turn to their expertise as former judges and prosecutors to protect their rights while preparing their case and readying them for trial. Contact an associate today for a free and confidential consultation.

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