Testimony by criminal defendants – Fairfax criminal lawyer
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Fairfax criminal defense attorney on the risks of testifying
Testimony even by the most honest and articulate criminal defendant risks eliciting damaging information and mis-speaking, during the high-pressure exercise of being on the testimonial hotseat. Unfortunately, a high percentage of people tell untruths in their lives, which makes it hard for them to undo that merely because they are on the witness stand testifying under oath. Often, it is best for a criminal defendant simply to stay off the witness stand.
Virginia criminal lawyer on fully and correctly preparing defendant testimony
As a Fairfax criminal attorney, I know the importance of thoroughly preparing the defendant’s court testimony. This starts early on in the attorney-client relationship through developing trust between the lawyer and defendant, and through the lawyer’s fully and actively listening to his or her client about all essential information in the case, and asking the right questions.
The lawyer and client should discuss and advise whether the client will testify, but that final decision rests with the client. Moreover, circumstances that indicated the need to testify might change and make it important not to testify, and also the opposite can happen. Fully prepared testimony is needed.
Fairfax criminal lawyer on some basics for court testimony
In 2015, I wrote a detailed blog entry on testifying in criminal court. Today’s blog entry ovelaps with and expands upon that blog entry.
Before a criminal defendant begins to testify, the lawyer must assure in open court (out of the hearing of jurors) that the defendant is confirming his knowing and voluntary waiver of his or her Fifth Amendment right to remain silent.
The witness’s sole obligation on the witness stand is to fulfill his or her oath to tell the truth. The only way to do that is to fully focus on and understand each question, to answer honestly, and to answer the question and only the question. It is not the witness’s role to assess whether his or her testimony is helping or hurting the defense. In fact, even the best testimony is going to include points against and points in favor of the defense.
This is part one of a two-part article, which continues here.
Fairfax criminal lawyer Jonathan L. Katz pursues your best defense against prosecutions for felony, misdemeanor, DWI, and drug charges. Jon Katz is available to discuss your case with you, through a confidential consultation scheduled through his staff at 703-383-1100.