Should You Testify at Your Criminal Trial? 

Tracy Tiernan - November 10, 2020 - Criminal Defense

Being charged with a criminal offense can have a huge impact on your future and your reputation. If you have been accused of a crime you did not commit or if there are extenuating circumstances in your charge, it is common to want to take the witness stand to inform everyone that you are innocent.

Unfortunately, however, it is often not a great idea to place a person facing criminal charges in Oklahoma on the witness stand during trial. Among other factors, there is a substantial risk that a jury might misconstrue your testimony, which could weaken your case. Instead, rely on the defense that your lawyer has created and let the evidence speak for you. It may not be a good idea to take the witness stand in your trial; consider the following three important factors.

Strong Defenses Often Stand Without Your Testimony

Juries should be focused on examining law enforcement’s investigation of your charge and considering whether inconsistencies exist. A defendant’s testimony can distract juries from focusing on these issues. If a defendant comes off as uncomfortable in any way on the witness stand, the jury might view the witness’s testimony as unreliable and may be even fallacious. Remember, in Oklahoma and the United States, a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty. This means that if you are charged with a criminal offense, you have nothing to prove. Instead, the burden lies on the prosecution to establish that you are guilty of the offense.

Reasons Testifying in Your Criminal Case is Not Wise

Some of the reasons why it is often not in a person’s best interest to testify at their criminal trial include:

  • By taking the stand, you might say something inappropriate or wrong that could greatly jeopardize the outcome of your case.
  • If you take the stand, the prosecution will then be able to cross-examine you. This often means that the prosecution will ask tough questions that if answered improperly could weaken your case.
  • The Fifth Amendment explicitly states that criminal defense has a privilege against self-incrimination.
  • The jury will likely not believe your testimony. This is because many jurors are biased against defendants.

There are Still Some Reasons Why You Might Testify

While it is often not a good idea, there are some distinct reasons why a lawyer might decide a client should testify in his or her criminal trial. Some advantages to having a person take the stand in their own defense include:

  • Specific statements or conversations you had have already been brought into question, and by testifying you will be able to clarify the details.
  • The jury presumes you are guilty, and by taking the stand, you have the opportunity to win the jury over to your side.
  • The prosecution has utilized unreliable witnesses. By taking the stand, you will create substantial credibility with jurors.
  • You have a strong alibi to prove that you are innocent.

Speak with a Knowledgeable Criminal Defense Attorney

Attorney Tracy Tiernan is dedicated to helping people charged with criminal offenses get through the process as smoothly as possible. We are committed to creating you a strong defense and doing our best work so you can receive the best results possible. If you are facing criminal charges in Oklahoma, do not hesitate to contact attorney Tiernan today to schedule a free case evaluation.