If your criminal case goes to trial, whether you should testify will be a decision you and your defense attorney will make. It could be a crucial decision that influences your case’s outcome. A Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer will explain the pros and cons of testifying and whether that is a part of your case plan.
Our Pennsylvania criminal defense team answers frequently asked questions (FAQs) online. Our attorneys can provide legal advice and answer questions specific to your case’s facts as a part of handling your criminal defense case.
Below, you can learn more about whether you should testify at your trial.
Who Will Decide if I Should Testify at My Trial?
There are pros and cons to testifying at your criminal trial. You should make this critical decision with your criminal defense attorney’s help. They will advise and guide you based on the facts in your case. Sometimes, the defendant’s testimony is a key component of a case, providing information and a point of view not otherwise available.
Under other circumstances, your attorney may advise you not to testify at a criminal proceeding. If your testimony does not add to the evidence in any substantial way, it may be best to avoid putting you on the stand.
Ultimately, you should follow your criminal defense attorney’s advice about testifying, what questions to answer, and how to handle yourself in court. Their guidance could contribute to obtaining a favorable case outcome.
For a free legal consultation, call 215.515.3360
Why Should I Testify at My Criminal Trial?
Many facing charges under Pennsylvania’s Crimes Code want to testify at their criminal trial. They see it as their one chance to give their side of the story and clear their name in their own words. When the party is well-spoken and can provide information that adds to the evidence in the case, their attorney may recommend putting them on the stand.
It may also be a good idea if the prosecutors are using testimony from others who are not as trustworthy or do not come across as honest to the jurors. For example, when the party testifying against our client in a case has a long history of arrests, jail time, or other similar activities, our client’s relatively clean record to this point might make them more trustworthy to jurors than the prosecution’s witness.
When Shouldn’t I Testify at My Criminal Trial?
There are often more reasons why a defendant should not testify at their criminal trial than good reasons to put them on the stand. Predicting everything that could go wrong in the defendant’s case is difficult if the testimony does not go smoothly.
For example, imagine you had a previous arrest for a similar crime. The prosecution may not otherwise be able to bring this up, but if you were to say something like “I would never lay hands on anyone” during your testimony, you may open the door to the government bringing up prior accusations.
Other things that have nothing to do with your case can also play a factor. If you are nervous, anxious, or stressed out over possibly saying the wrong thing, the jury could believe you are guilty because of your behavior. While this isn’t supposed to happen, they are only human. They may not even realize they are making these judgments.
How Can I Prepare to Testify in My Defense?
Sometimes, you may not know if your attorney will call on you to testify in your case until a few days before. It often depends on how the case is going and if additional topics must be addressed. For this reason, we make sure that our clients understand every detail of their case and we often work with our clients to prepare them to testify before the trial begins.
Your attorney should help you understand the difficult questions you might need to answer, including those during cross-examination, topics to avoid, and how to handle yourself throughout a criminal proceeding. They will also explain how the trial process works and what you can expect as you move forward.
Many criminal defense attorneys have specific steps they take to prepare clients for trial, and this could include discussing giving testimony. If you have any questions about the legal strategy planned for your case, do not hesitate to ask your legal team. They want to ensure you have the information and support you need to participate positively in your case.
What Is the Role of a Criminal Defense Attorney at Trial?
When a criminal case goes to trial, it is the culmination of tons of hard work and preparation. By the time the trial date arrives, your attorney has been working to get the best possible outcome in your case for months.
At trial, they will represent your best interests. This will most likely include cross-examining prosecution witnesses and possibly presenting defense evidence to support your case. They will counter the accusations made by prosecutors and ask the jury to acquit you of the charges. Throughout this process, they will communicate with you, offering guidance and helping you understand what is happening.
You will want an attorney to represent you as soon as possible after your arrest. This is the best way to ensure your rights remain protected and you can build the strongest case possible to get a better outcome. Some possible positive outcomes of criminal cases include:
- The courts never proceed with the charges.
- The prosecution drops the charges.
- You face reduced charges.
- Your attorney negotiates a reduced sentence.
- You are acquitted at trial.
Call Today to Discuss Your Criminal Case – Our Defense Lawyer Can Help
Call the Law Offices of M.J. Snyder, LLC, if you face accusations, arrest, or criminal charges in the greater Philadelphia area. Our attorneys help clients fight charges of assault, drug possession, DUI, rape, homicide, gun charges, and more.
We offer a free consultation and can go to work on your case today. Contact us now to learn more about how we can help you or your loved one after a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, arrest.