How To Prepare To Testify in Court

How can I be prepared if I have to testify in court?

The idea of testifying can often make people feel nervous or unsure of themselves, whether they are only a witness or actual participants in a criminal or civil trial. The event can go more smoothly if you know the basics of success. Here are six tips that can make it easier for you to testify in a New Hampshire court.

1. Refresh Your Memory

Try to visualize the scene, the things in it, the distances, and what truly occurred before you give your testimony. This will make it easier for you to recall the details correctly when a question is asked. 

If the question relates to time or distance, make it clear that your response is simply an estimate. If you can’t remember the precise time or distance, be wary of questions asking you to give an exact distance or time. If your research doesn’t lead you to the same conclusion, disagree with their opinion.

2. Be Prepared

Unprepared testimony is not a good idea. If you are unprepared, you risk making a mistake and performing poorly during direct and cross-examination. You don’t want to inadvertently lie or contradict yourself.

Ideally, you should practice enough times before your testimony to feel at ease, but especially just before it. Before you testify, be aware of the facts and keep them fresh in your mind. Having the details fresh in your mind just before you testify is always a good idea. Additionally, when you testify, be precise.

3. Appearance Is Important

In court, a nice look and suitable clothes are essential. The problem with having a very casual or dressy appearance is that it will divert the jury’s attention away from your testimony during the brief time you are on the stand.

4. Take Your Time

You will have the chance to completely respond to any questions from the attorneys for both sides. Wait until they are finished before responding to their inquiries. 

After that, take your time before responding. There is no hurry to respond. Don’t try to force an answer if you don’t know or have one. Just say, “I don’t know” or “I can’t remember,” as your response.

5. Avoid Losing Your Temper

An angry witness could exaggerate, appear less than objective, or be emotionally unstable. Keep your temper. Always be polite, even if the lawyer interviewing you is rude. Avoid coming across as a “wise guy” so you don’t lose the respect of the jury and judge.

6. Credibility

Your value as a witness depends on more than just what you say; it also depends on how you come across (how credible you are). No matter how intelligent you are, you won’t be a credible witness if the jury or judge doesn’t believe you.

The truth must always be told even when it isn’t helpful to the side you are testifying for. Both professionalism and likeability are required. It is advantageous, especially in jury trials, to behave and present yourself in a manner.

Depending on what they find trustworthy, juries decide whether or not to believe a witness, including an expert witness. Several criteria are used to evaluate credibility. This includes your conduct, whether you come across as biased, and your background.

Common Issues to Avoid

  • Say “I do not know” if you have never known the answer to a question.
  • If you have trouble recalling specifics like exact times and dates, give testimony based on what you do remember. Don’t guess or assume.
  • Respond simply to the question posed; do not offer any clarification or additional information unless specifically asked for.
  • Avoid using jargon, “shop talk,” acronyms, abbreviations, and technical phrases.
  • If you accidentally respond incorrectly, quickly correct yourself.
  • Tell the truth if someone asks you if you talked about your testimony with your lawyer; if you did, say so.
  • Be honest if you are asked if your lawyer told you what to say.
  • If a lawyer misrepresents something you said or misunderstood what you said, kindly correct them.
  • Respond to the question instead of arguing or losing your temper.
  • If you don’t need more information or want the question repeated, don’t respond to a question with another question.

If you are facing a trial and need help with contact our experienced Concord, New Hampshire legal team. We practice in criminal defense, personal injury, family law, and more.

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