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Is testifying in your own defense a good idea?

On Behalf of | Aug 22, 2022 | Criminal Defense |

A lot of people who have been charged with a criminal offense are chomping at the bit to argue against the prosecution’s claims and prove their innocence. But this can be dangerous, as many people who are quick to talk end up talking themselves into more trouble. If you’ve been accused of criminal wrongdoing, it might be helpful to remind yourself that you don’t have to prove your innocence; you only have to raise reasonable doubt as to your guilt.

Should you testify during your criminal trial?

This is a question that’s often asked by those who are headed to trial. Ultimately, the answer to this question is entirely up to you, because you’re in the driver’s seat of your criminal defense. However, your attorney might give you advice as to whether testifying is in your best interests under the circumstances.

There are a lot of factors to consider when making this determination, and each one needs to be carefully vetted. Here are just some of the considerations that you need to take into consideration as you assess whether you should testify in your case:

  • Demeanor: How you present on the witness stand may mean more than what you actually say. Therefore, you’ll need to be realistic about how you portray yourself when under an extreme amount of stress and anxiety. If there’s a chance that you might become flustered, irritated or angry, then you might want to avoid testifying. The jury may interpret your demeanor as an indication that your testimony is unreliable or that you’re trying to hide something.
  • Your experience testifying: Testifying in open court is challenging, especially when you’re trying to anticipate the prosecution’s move. If you’ve never testified before, you might be more likely to get tripped up and say something that you never intended to disclose.
  • What you have to add: Your decision whether to testify may hinge on what you have to say. In many instances, your side of the story can be told in a more controlled fashion by utilizing other witnesses. But if you have information that only you can share, and that information is crucial to your criminal defense, then you might need to more carefully consider whether testifying in your own defense is your best option.
  • The judge and jury: Remember, your testimony is only as valuable as the weight assigned to it by the judge or the jury. Therefore, you’ll want to consider the makeup of the jury and the personality and demeanor of the judge before making your decision, as this may give you a better sense of the value that your testimony has to offer your defense.
  • What you’re willing to risk: Ultimately, there’s a lot at risk by testifying in your case. The more you’re willing to gamble on your case, the more likely you may be willing to testify in your own defense.

Developing the criminal defense that’s right for you

There are a lot of moving parts to a successful criminal defense. And you have to adequately address each and every one of them if you want to increase your chances of beating the prosecution’s arguments. If that sounds overwhelming, don’t worry. Experienced criminal defense teams can help you thoroughly analyze your case so that you can build the persuasive legal strategies that you need on your side.


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