Our criminal justice system relies heavily on testimony made in court from people who have knowledge of or have been victims of a crime. However, there’s some things you should think about and prepare for before having to provide testimony in court.
Before testifying in court, it’s best practice to consult with your attorney prior to your appearance. Unless you’re on trial for a crime, testimony isn’t usually necessary. Say you’ve been injured at your workplace in New York City, your personal injury attorney nyc may settle out of court and testifying isn’t even needed. Or, maybe you’re involved in a car accident claim stemming from a collision in Paterson, New Jersey, an accident lawyer Paterson NJ may be handling the claim and negotiate a payout you agree with. The circumstances usually dictate when a trial and testimony is required. Always speak to your attorney if a court appearance is forthcoming.
If you are asked to testify in court, the following advice may be helpful.
Recall Your Memories
Try to visualize the scene, the things present, the distances, and what occurred before you testify. When you’re asked a question, you’ll be able to remember the information more correctly as a result of this. If the inquiry is regarding distances or time, be sure you mention that your response is just an estimate. When it comes to distance or timing, be wary of legal recommendations if you don’t remember the exact time or distance. Never just agree, especially if you don’t agree fully with their assessment.
Don’t Memorize Responses Verbatim
Don’t attempt to recite what you’re going to say from memory. If you do so, your testimony will come off as “cookie-cutter” and insincere. Instead, be yourself and go through the subject you’ll be questioned about in your head before the trial.
It’s Important to Look Good
In court, a clean look and appropriate attire are essential. During the short time you’re on the stand, a look that seems extremely casual or too formal may distract the jury, and the jury may not pay attention to your evidence.
Speak Up and Clearly
Deliver your testimony clearly and speak up to ensure that the jury can hear you and comprehend what you’re saying. While testifying, avoid things like chewing gum or anything that is distracting. While giving your answer to a lawyer’s questions, always remember that it is intended to benefit the jury.
Don’t Talk About Your Case
Jurors who are called to sit on the jury for the case where you are called in as a witness may be in the same public places as you. As a result, you must not speak to anybody about the matter. Keep in mind that jurors may be able to witness your behavior outside of the courthouse.
If you’re called to appear in court for a specific reason, it’s a serious event. You should also remember not to talk about the case until you are testifying in court.
Taking the Oath
The court will swear you in before being asked to testify. Stand up straight, pay attention to the clerk, and declare “I do” clearly while taking the oath.
Most importantly, you have taken an oath to be truthful in all of your statements. Every genuine truth must be easily acknowledged. Do not overthink your answer to a question, as to whether it benefits either party. Answer the best you can in response to questions.
Exaggeration is Not a Good Thing
Do not make any excessively broad claims that you may have to amend later. Also, be very cautious when replying to a question that starts, “Wouldn’t you agree that…?” When you offer your response, do so in your own words. Never let an attorney speak for you, it is never good in court.
Pay Attention to What Is Being Said
When a witness takes the stand, the attorney who summoned him or her to testify first asks him or her some questions. These inquiries are asked to conduct an examination. When there’s a cross examination, it refers to when legal counsel on the opposite side questions you. This procedure is sometimes done many times to ensure that all elements of the questions and responses are addressed thoroughly. Direct examination’s main goal is for you to tell the judge and jury all you know about the case. The main objective in cross examination is to cast doubt on the testimony you had just given. If you believe your answers are being questioned during the cross examination, keep calm. Don’t be offended, the defense lawyer is just doing what they are hired to do.