When the court files criminal charges against a person, the court calls the person the defendant. According to criminal law, defendants have rights, and one right allows the defendants to stay quiet in their cases. People facing charges have the right to remain silent, and the purpose of this is to help criminals avoid making incriminating statements. If you are facing a trial and decide to testify in court, you should understand several things before going through with it.
Testifying Foregoes Your Right to Remain Silent
Criminals have many rights, but you give up some of those rights if you take the stand. The primary right you give up is the right not to speak. Taking the stand requires that you answer questions under oath. You cannot lie while you are on the stand, as this presents the risk of getting charged with perjury.
When you take the stand, you can plead the Fifth Amendment to avoid answering questions. Doing this, though, often makes you look guilty. Therefore, if you take the stand, you will have to answer all the questions the court asks you. The process begins with your lawyer posing questions to you, but it follows with the prosecution's turn.
Testifying Allows the Prosecution to Cross-Examine You
The prosecution is the legal team that tries to prove your guilt in the crime, and they can ask you questions while you are testifying. When this occurs, it is called cross-examination. Cross-examination is often a challenging event for defendants to go through. Prosecutors prepare for this event and may bring up things you do not want to hear in court. They may dig into your past, and they might pose questions you would rather not answer.
Testifying Might Do More Harm Than Good
You can testify or not in your case, but you should realize that testifying might do more harm than good. If you feel that testifying would help your case, talk to your lawyer. If your lawyer agrees, then you can testify in your case. If your lawyer disagrees with you, you can still testify if you wish, but you might not experience positive results from going through with it.
Many criminal lawyers recommend that defendants choose not to take the stand at their trials. Sometimes, though, lawyers might recommend testifying. If you are facing a criminal case, talk to a criminal law attorney about this issue before deciding what you should do.