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Should you testify as the defendant in a criminal case?

On Behalf of | Jul 2, 2020 | Criminal Defense

You’re the defendant in a criminal case, and you want to make sure that you do all you can to protect your interests. You know that there is a chance that you’ll be asked to testify, even though you could make a mistake or say something that doesn’t sit right with the jury.

As a defendant in a criminal case, it may not be a good idea to testify. Three reasons why people may choose not to testify in court include:

  • Wanting to protect themselves against self-incrimination
  • Avoiding cross-examination
  • Knowing that the burden of proof lies with the prosecution.

If you want to protect yourself against saying or doing anything that could lead to losing your case, staying quiet is a smart choice. You can choose not to testify to protect yourself. If you do choose to testify, you waive your right to plead the Fifth and will need to answer any questions you’re asked.

Cross-examinations can be difficult, too. Your defense attorney will help you explain what happened in a way that puts you in the most favorable light. The prosecution won’t. The prosecution may take steps to upset you or try to cause a conflict in your testimony.

Finally, know that the prosecution has to prove that you’re guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If they don’t have enough evidence, you don’t want to accidentally give them more.

It’s up to you and your attorney to decide on the best way forward with your case. If you do end up wanting to testify, your attorney will take time to talk to you about how to present yourself in court and what you should or should not say or do.