Preparation is the Key
Taking the stand can be scary — no matter who you are. But, it’s one of the most important parts of your case, and getting the opportunity to tell your side of the story is critical. But, it’s also an overwhelming and intimidating process.
So, how can you ace your court testimony?
Preparing for Testimony
Like most things in life, preparation is key to ace your court testimony. Now, is it possible to prepare for and rehearse every last minute of your testimony? No. But, some preparation is still possible, including talking with your attorney about what will happen and even doing a mock testimony with them. This will help you get a feel for the pace and tone of cross-examination and what questions to expect. Now, your attorney won’t be able to predict every single question you’ll be asked. But, you’ll at least get a feel for what’s coming.
It’s also essential that your testimony is authentic. So, there is such thing as over-rehearsing in this case. Over rehearsing would be writing a script and memorizing it to read during your testimony. You should not do this because you risk forgetting one word, which sends you into a tailspin and has you forgetting your entire testimony rather than just re-telling events from your heart.
Here are some tips to properly prepare for testimony:
- Tell the truth. If you honestly don’t know the answer to a question or you can’t remember a fact, say that rather than guessing.
- If you need a question clarified, ask.
- Only answer the question you’ve been asked. Don’t offer up extra information or details.
- Stay calm. Don’t argue with opposing counsel or the judge. Some attorneys may try to rile you up or intimate you, but it’s important to let it go, and then let judge handle any inappropriate behavior.
- Dress professionally and stay respectful toward the judge and their court process.
- Speak loudly and clearly so the court reporter, judge, and jury (if applicable) can hear and take note of everything you say. If you mumble, you’ll be asked to repeat yourself, or you risk having the jury or judge misunderstand you. When you speak loudly and clearly, you appear more professional and confident — another bonus.
- When you’re asked a question, take a pause to think about how you’re going to answer.
- Tell your own story from the heart. Don’t memorize what you’ll say. Instead, be genuine and tell the events as you recall them.
- Don’t exaggerate by making broad statements you may have to correct. This leads to opposing counsel being able to say, “wouldn’t you agree that…” We do not want the other side putting words in your mouth, so it’s important to avoid this.
- Don’t lose your temper.
- Respond orally to the questions. Don’t nod or say “hmm mmm,” or “nuh-uh.” It’s unprofessional, and the judge will ask you to repeat yourself using words for the court reporter.
- Don’t talk over anyone in the courtroom. Stop speaking if the judge or an attorney starts talking during your testimony. If you have something important to say, ask to resume your statement after they finish.
- Avoid speaking in “absolutes.” Try not to say things like, “that’s everything that took place,” unless you clearly remember every detail and can’t be mistaken. Instead, use phrases like “that’s what I remember about the event right now.”
Following these tips will help you testify in a professional, courteous, and compelling manner.
You also need to find a skilled criminal defense attorney who will help you prepare for testimony and share expert tips with you.
We Can Help
If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime, and you need to prepare testimony for court, we invite you to contact a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney at Esfandi Law Group immediately for a free case review. Call Us 310‑274‑6529
Need a Criminal Defense Attorney? CALL NOW: 310-274-6529
Seppi Esfandi is an Expert Criminal Defense Attorney who has over 20 years of practice defending a variety of criminal cases.