Testifying in Court Can Be Stressful—Here’s What to Expect As A Witness

Taking the stand is not an everyday occurrence for most people. It can be nerve-racking to participate in such an unfamiliar and serious process. Criminal trials can have grave consequences and every participant can feel that weight on their shoulders. 

How Likely Is it That I Will Have to Testify?

The short answer is that it’s not very likely. The vast majority of criminal cases settle before trial. Unfortunately, there is no way to be sure that your case will settle. You have to prepare to take the stand, even though the chances are slim that you will have to give testimony.

The Process

Most people learn they will be asked to testify when they receive a subpoena. The subpoena contains important information you will need to keep in mind. First, it will tell you where and when you must appear. It should also inform you of any supporting documents or items you need to bring with you. The contact information of the prosecutor and instructions for acknowledging the subpoena will also be there.

Rule Number One of Testifying

Criminal trials are, first and foremost, about getting to the truth. As such, your number one priority as a witness is to provide a truthful, accurate account to the best of your ability. There are serious consequences to dishonest or inaccurate testimony in criminal trials. You need to consider what you say before you say it.

Things to Consider As A Witness

Giving testimony doesn’t require you to be an expert on the law. You do not have to memorize your testimony in advance. The judge and the attorneys will lead you through the process. Answer the questions, don’t offer information that isn’t relevant to the question and follow the judge’s instructions. 

Your testimony is only part of the process. It isn’t your responsibility to decide who is innocent or guilty. It isn’t your responsibility to give your opinion about how the case should be decided. You have information that is important to the case. You will be asked questions to get to that information. All you need to worry about is providing the most accurate answer you can.

Tampering or Intimidation

There are some situations where a witness is threatened or coerced regarding their testimony. This is a crime. If you are pressured to change your testimony or refuse to give testimony, you should report it to the police and the prosecutor.

Contact White & Associates to Discuss Your Legal Needs

Criminal cases are serious matters. Participating in a criminal trial takes careful thought. A conviction is a life-altering event for many who experience it and the advice of an experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney can make a tremendous difference. Contact White & Associates by sending us a message or calling 763-241-0477 to discuss your situation.

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