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Tips for Testifying in Court

Fiol Law Group|Posted in Lawsuits on May 23, 2018

Testifying in court is a serious affair. Whether it is a criminal or civil case, your statement could determine another person’s fate. The significance of your responses can make testifying a nerve-wracking experience. It is important to keep some things in mind as you prepare to testify in court.

Refresh Your Memory

You probably have no idea what the opposing attorney is going to ask as you head up to the witness stand. There is no way to have prepared responses to every question. It is important to refresh your memory to respond properly to the questions. Picture the scene: the objects around you, the events exactly as they happened, and any other details that are relevant to the incident. If you can have the details fresh in your mind, it will be easier to answer the opposing attorney’s questions. If he or she asks you about specific details such as distances, make sure to say it is an estimate if you are unsure of the exact number.

Speak in Your Own Words

Be sure to avoid memorizing your responses while you refresh your memory. The court may be skeptical about your testimony if your responses sound rehearsed. Be yourself.

Dress Properly

The way you dress is important. Your testimony is the most important thing, but the judge or jury will form an impression of you before you speak and your appearance will play a factor. Do not come to court dressed casually or looking messy. An unkempt appearance may distract the judge or jury during your testimony.

Speak Clearly

Your testimony will make far less of an impact if no one can understand what you are saying. Make sure that everyone in the courtroom can hear and decipher everything that you say. Do not chew gum or mumble during your testimony, because it will distract people from your responses.

Do Not Discuss the Case Outside the Courtroom

Do not forget that any of the jurors could be in the same public area as you. If they hear you discussing the case, it could impact their decisions. Exhibit exemplary behavior. If a juror sees you acting recklessly or rudely, he or she may be less likely to trust your testimony.

Tell the Truth

The most important part of your testimony is that you tell the truth. You will be under oath and could get into serious trouble if you lie. Do not pause to think about how your answers will affect either side. Answer honestly and to the best of your ability.

Do Not Let the Attorney Twist Your Testimony

When the opposing attorney is questioning you, he or she will most likely ask leading questions. Do not let anyone twist your responses. For example, if an attorney asks you a question that begins, “Wouldn’t you agree that … ?” he or she is trying to direct you toward a certain response. Stick to your testimony and be wary of people manipulating your words.

Do Not Become Angry or Frustrated

At some points during your time on the stand, it may feel like the attorneys are asking you the same questions over and over again. Do not become frustrated. The attorneys are trying to make sure all the facts of the case are clear.

Do not become angry. If you are overly emotional or worked up, the jury is more likely to dismiss your testimony and feel skeptical whether your statements are objective and true. Always be respectful, even if the questioning seems condescending or rude. The judge and jury will respect you more if you can stay calm.

Think Before You Speak

A testimony is not the time to respond quickly and freely. Be honest, but take a moment to stop and think before answering a question. Ask the attorney to repeat the question if you are confused or do not understand the question. Each response you provide is vital to the case so it is important to give thoughtful answers. Take your time.

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