How to Testify in Court
One of the most common questions we get is how to prepare to testify in court. Testifying can be a nerve-wracking experience. However, our team can help you navigate testifying and work through being as confident as possible while on the stand and under oath.
Refresh Your Memory
Try to envision the scene, the items present, the distances, and exactly what happened before you testify. When you’re asked a question, you’ll be able to recall the information more precisely due to this. If the inquiry is regarding distances or time, be sure you clarify that your answer is simply an estimate. When it comes to distance or timing, be wary of legal advice if you don’t recall the exact time or distance. If you don’t get to the same conclusion on your own, don’t agree with their assessment.
Speak Your Own Language
Don’t try to recite what you’re going to say from memory. Your evidence will come off as “pat” and unconvincing if you do so. Instead, be yourself and go through the topic you’ll be questioned about in your head before the trial.
It’s Important to Look Good
In court, a tidy look and correct attire are essential. During the limited time you’re on the stand, a look that appears excessively casual or too fancy will distract the jury, and the jury may not pay attention to your evidence.
Examine your case’s strengths and weaknesses.
If you’re the plaintiff, go over what you’ll need to establish to win. Are you prepared to persuade the judge with your evidence? What can you do to counteract the flaws? Make a list of everything you need to prove, and next to each item, write down how you’ll prove it. Is it a good idea to try to reach an agreement before the trial?
Review the plaintiff’s standard of proving if you’re the defendant. Examine each of the factors the plaintiff must establish. Make a note of each item and the evidence you believe the plaintiff will acquire. Write down the flaws in each of these aspects that you may use to weaken the other side’s case.
Be truthful to yourself. The plaintiff will lose if they are unable to prove all of the case’s components. On the other hand, if the opposing side has a high probability of winning, do what you can do to reduce the damage reward.
Deliver your testimony clearly, deliberately, and loudly enough for even the most distant jury to hear and understand what you’re saying. While testifying, avoid distracting habits like chewing gum. Even if you’re responding to a lawyer’s questions, keep in mind that the inquiries are intended for the jury’s benefit.
Be a Reliable witness.
If you’re summoned to court for whatever reason, take it seriously, don’t laugh, and don’t mention anything about the case until you’re asked to testify.
Taking the Oath as a Witness
You will be sworn in before being asked to testify. When taking the oath, stand up straight, pay attention to the clerk, and say “I do” clearly.
Tell the Truth
Most importantly, you have taken an oath. Every real fact must be acknowledged. Do not pause to consider if your response will benefit or harm either party. Simply respond to the questions to the best of your ability.
Do Not Exaggerate
Make no too broad claims that you might have to amend later. When replying to a question that begins, “Wouldn’t you agree that…?” be very cautious. Your explanation should be written entirely in your own words. Allowing an attorney to speak for you is not a good idea.
Don’t speak over someone.
Stop talking for a minute if the judge or an attorney begins to speak during your testimony. However, if you believe what you have to say is essential, ask to continue speaking after the other person has finished.
Respond to the questions.
Unless an attorney requests it explicitly, don’t provide information. Answer each question thoroughly and honestly, and don’t add anything more to the conversation. After each question, you are not required to speak for five minutes if all that is required is a simple yes or no response.
Maintain your composure.
You won’t be able to help anyone if you lose your temper on the stand. On the contrary, it might land you in problems with the court and jeopardize your testimony’s credibility. Even if you have strong views about the issue, show respect for everyone in the courtroom.
Be positive and confident.
When at all feasible, give affirmative, definitive responses. If you can respond positively, avoid using phrases like “I believe,” “I think,” or “In my view.” If you know anything, say so. You can be optimistic about significant events that you would naturally recall. It’s best just to claim you don’t recall if you’re questioned about little facts that a person would normally forget. Don’t make up an answer.
Do you have questions or concerns about a legal issue you’re facing? Get in touch with our team and we can help you. With experience in criminal, family, DUI, and more, we’re equipped to walk you through the process and work toward the most favorable outcome possible.