A Colorado Criminal Defense Lawyer On: How To Testify In A Criminal Trial
A Colorado Criminal Defense Lawyer On: How To Testify In A Criminal Trial -Testifying DOES require preparation – this article helps you understand some common concepts, strategies and tactics about testifying in a Colorado criminal trial.
Perhaps The Most Terrifying Task You Will Experience – TESTIFYING IN COURT
The most effective witnesses are those who follow certain basic – foundational – rules for testifying.
How To Testify In A Colorado Criminal Trial – Rule Number 1: Work Hard To Be Prepared – While obvious – this rule cannot be overstated. Do not underestimate the amount of time you will need to prepare for your testimony – at least 5 to 1 in terms of actual time to prepare vs courtroom testimony – is a good rule of thumb.
Of course the more complex and serious the charges and evidence – the more time you will need to spend both with and without your lawyer.
How To Testify In A Colorado Criminal Trial – Rule Number 2: Read Everything In The Police Reports and Other Discovery: Know the case and have a command of what evidence the prosecution can bring to bear.
How To Testify In A Colorado Criminal Trial – Rule Number 3: Never Memorize The Questions and Answers: Never try to memorize the information in the case file. Even if your lawyer gives you the questions he or she may ask – do NOT memorize them and – or your answers. If you do – your testimony will sound rehearsed, superficial and phony.
How To Testify In A Colorado Criminal Trial – Rule Number 4 : If there are transcripts of your prior testimony – READ them and learn them. Sometimes there is a preliminary hearing or a motions hearing where a witness has previously testified under oath. The Colorado criminal defense lawyer should have that testimony transcribed and the witness should be very familiar with their former testimony before testifying again at trial.
Not only will this review help refresh their memory, – the witness will have a chance to correct a mistake made in the prior testimony that might be misinterpreted.
How To Testify In A Colorado Criminal Trial – Rule Number 5: Make certain you appear honest and impartial – Juries assign more weight to witnesses who appear as if they are being completely honest and factual in their testimony and if they demonstrate a fair and impartial attitude. Just state the facts – no opinions.
How To Testify In A Colorado Criminal Trial – Rule Number 6: Never volunteer information – if you do it will be interpreted by the jury as an attempt to “help” the defendant. Always answer the question asked and only that question – no long explanations.
How To Testify In A Colorado Criminal Trial – Rule Number 7: Beware of “evasive” answers – If you do not answer a direct question with a direct answer – it will be seen by a jury as an attempt to avoid an answer that could hurt the defense case. Evasive answers prove you are biased which can actually impact the jury in a way that is completely opposite to the case you are trying to make.
When a witness is evasive – he or she appears less credible.. less believable..
How To Testify In A Colorado Criminal Trial – Rule Number 8: The need to be completely truthful. Total impartiality requires that witness to be completely truthful. The witness who “misstates a fact” is hurting the case – especially when another witness – unaware of the lie – testifies contrary to that fact. At that point – both witness’s credibility will be shot as the jury will not know who to believe and may end up not believing either witness.
How To Testify In A Colorado Criminal Trial – Rule Number 9: Don’t focus on the verdict. Your credibility is so important that if you focus too much on the “big picture” – you will appear to much more honest by putting your energies getting your testimony right. Leave the verdict to your lawyer’s view of how the case fits together.
How To Testify In A Colorado Criminal Trial – Rule Number 10: Don’t favor answering questions from your lawyer as opposed to the opposing lawyer. Treat them both the same – professionally and with respect. You establish your impartiality by appearing to be a witness who is an “honest broker” of his contribution to the case and not by stiffening up on cross-examination and becoming immediately defensive when the opposing lawyer is asking the questions. Your demeanor as to each of the lawyers should be the same… leave the attitude outside the courtroom.
How To Testify In A Colorado Criminal Trial – Rule Number 11: Never lose your temper – never lose control. If the opposing lawyer makes you angry – her – she has won. Anger equals loss of control and bias. Resist the impulse to lose your temper no matter how annoying or obnoxious the opposing attorney has become. If you do this – you have won and your image is strengthened.
How To Testify In A Colorado Criminal Trial – Rule Number 12: Along with not losing your temper is the admonition to not be sarcastic or irritable. Answers such as “you already asked that question… or I said that – did you not hear me?” are taken by the jury as indications that you are a jerk and not to be taken seriously. Maintain your demeanor – never lose your temper – and never answer a question sarcastically.
If you don’t know the answer to a question – answer honestly ”I don’t know.” not only is this an indication that you are a truthful witness – juries will respect you for being sincere as a witness… “I don’t know,” or ”I can’t remember” are perfectly valid answers.
How To Testify In A Colorado Criminal Trial – Rule Number 13: Beware of the “trap” of summarized testimony. When the opposing lawyer “summarizes” your prior testimony – listen closely. The lawyer will often – either deliberately or inadvertently – misstate that prior testimony. Immediately correct the lawyer – professionally – “I am sorry – that is not what I said – actually I testified that … “
How To Testify In A Colorado Criminal Trial – Rule Number 14: Admitting you prepared for trial by talking to your lawyer – Never be afraid to admit that you prepared for your trial testimony by speaking to your lawyer.
This cheap tactic can easily be defeated if you answer – “yes – of course” we went over my testimony and I was told to tell the truth.”
If it is implied in the question – in strong terms – tell the DA you were not “coached” by your lawyer and that you did not speak to other witnesses in a group effort to “get your stories straight.”
How To Testify In A Colorado Criminal Trial – Rule Number 15: Have a sense of humor and do not worry about being nervous. It is all too human to be nervous when you are testifying in court. The jury will like you more if they see you are human – and – you are self effacing with a nice sense of humor.
A Colorado Criminal Defense Lawyer On: How To Testify In A Criminal Trial
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