If you’ve been charged with a crime, you are guaranteed your day in court to defend yourself against the charges. But what if you’d rather someone else defend you while listen to them make your case. Can you do this, or do you have to speak in court?
As you can probably assume considering this is a criminal defense blog, if you hire an attorney, you do not need to speak in court when your case is called. You can hire an attorney to speak on your behalf. Now, this doesn’t mean that you can just skip court and find out later how your case turned out, so while your presence may be required, odds are you won’t have to speak when you have a lawyer by your side. You have the power of allocation, meaning you can speak if you so choose, but you definitely don’t have to.
In general, we typically counsel our clients as to whether or not we expect them to need to speak at trial. We’ll be the ones submitting motions, calling and interviewing witnesses and interacting with the judge and the prosecution. You may be asked to state your name for the court or answer yes or no as to whether you understand the charges you face, but unless you want to speak, you won’t be asked to talk in front of the court.
Can I Testify?
Speaking during proceedings and getting up on the stand are two different things, and there’s a chance you’ll be called to testify in court. Now, with that being said, if you are the one facing charges, you do not need to take the stand if you and your legal team decide it is not in your best interest. You have the right to avoid self-incrimination, and your decision not to speak cannot be held against you by a judge or jury. If you are facing charges, you and your legal team will have a decision to make as to whether or not you should open yourself up to cross examination.
If you are not the defendant, but you witnessed the incident in question, there’s a good chance you’ll be asked to provide your version of events for the court. You will face questions from both the prosecution and the defense in order to help give credibility or cast doubt over your testimony, depending on what you say during your time in the witness chair. Be honest and only answer the question being asked, and you’ll do great.
When it comes down to whether or not you have to speak in court, it’s best to let your attorney do the talking. We’re not saying that we never want to hear you talk; in fact, if you hear something during trial that you believe is a major issue or inconsistency, talk to your lawyer or legal team mid-trial. Let us know where your head is at and if there is something you want to court to know, and we’ll make sure to present it in the best way possible. By working together, we can put together the best possible case and increase your chances of winning.
For more information, or for help with your criminal case, reach out to Appelman Law Firm today.