Should you testify in your own defense?

On Behalf of | Nov 8, 2023 | Criminal Law |

Facing a trial in a criminal defense case can be daunting, and it is important to understand the process and your rights as a defendant.

Testifying in your own defense can greatly impact the outcome of your case. Weigh the pros and cons of taking the stand as part of determining whether it is a good idea to do so.

Pros of testifying

About half of defendants testify at their trials. One of the primary advantages of testifying is the opportunity to tell your side of the story directly to the court. This can help you clarify any misunderstandings and provide context to your actions.

By taking the stand, you may establish credibility with the judge and jury. Sharing your version of events can humanize you and make you appear more honest and forthright. Testifying allows you to directly address and refute the evidence presented by the prosecution. You can explain any inconsistencies or challenge the validity of the other side’s claims.

If you are confident in your innocence, testifying can be a powerful way to assert it. Your testimony may create reasonable doubt in the minds of the jury.

Cons of testifying

When you take the stand, you open yourself up to cross-examination by the opposing side. The prosecution may use aggressive questioning to undermine your credibility and poke holes in your story.

Testifying under oath means you must tell the truth. If you provide false information, you could face perjury charges, which carry serious legal consequences. Testifying can also be emotionally taxing, especially if you are facing tough questions or accusations. Maintain composure and avoid emotional outbursts.

Jurors might have preconceived biases that affect how they perceive your testimony. Your demeanor, speech or background could unintentionally sway their opinions.