Whether it is a misdemeanor like trespassing or a serious felony like murder, facing a criminal charge is a big deal. If you are convicted, you might pay a heavy price to society. Plus, you will end up with a criminal record.
It is not uncommon to want to give your side of the story by testifying in your criminal trial. Of course, you do not have to. The Fifth Amendment protects you from self-incrimination. So, is testifying in your trial always a good idea?
What to expect if you decide to testify in your trial
When you go to trial, both the prosecution and your defense team will have the right to call their witnesses. Taking the stand means that you will be giving evidence too. Thus, you will be required to swear to speak the truth. Thereafter, your legal counsel will start asking questions. This will be your opportunity to articulate your account of events.
Once your defense counsel is done, it will be the prosecution’s turn to ask questions. And this is where things can take a tricky turn.
Can you handle the cross-examination?
While cross-examining you, the prosecution will likely twist the questions your counsel asked you. This might bring up issues that may damage your credibility before the court. For example, if you have been charged with a crime before, the prosecution might raise this even if it is not related to what you are being charged with. Keep in mind that the prosecution is always on a mission to dig up everything they can use against you to secure a conviction.
It’s your choice
No two criminal charges are the same. That said, the decision to take the stand in your criminal trial is yours to make. If you are confident that you can handle the prosecution’s pressure and prove your innocence, then testifying in your trial might be a prudent idea. If, however, you are timid, then you’d rather not testify. Understanding and exploring your legal options can help you make an informed decision on whether you should testify in your trial or not.