Should you testify in your own defense in your criminal trial?

On Behalf of | Oct 30, 2023 | Firm News |

When you’re accused of a crime and your case heads to trial, you have the right to testify in your own defense. Although you might think that you can give the judge and jury a clear portrayal of your innocence when you testify, taking the stand in your own defense is very risky. So, before making that decision, make sure you know the danger involved so that you can make the informed decision that’s right for you.

The risks of testifying in your own defense

There are several ways in which testifying in your own defense can come back to haunt you. Here are some of them:

  • You’ll be forced to answer tough questions on cross-examination.
  • Invoking the Fifth Amendment during questioning might leave the jury with an impression that you’re guilty.
  • Your history will be brought to light in an attempt to portray you as a dishonest individual or someone who is a long-term criminal.
  • You might not strike the right tone with the judge or jury.

Any of these issues could devastate your criminal defense and leave you at a heightened risk of conviction.

So, when is it right to testify in your own defense?

There are times when it’s appropriate to testify in your own defense. This includes when:

  • You can testify to facts that no one else can.
  • The prosecution’s witnesses have a more extensive criminal history than you do, which will make your testimony more credible.
  • Your case is going so badly that testifying in your own defense is your only option.

There may be other instances where testifying in your own defense is a wise move, but they’re very limited.

Make the criminal defense decision that’s right for you

It’s generally advisable not to testify in your own defense, as there’s simply too much risk. But this is an important matter that should be thoroughly discussed with your criminal defense attorney so that you can determine the best course of action for you. That way, you’ll hopefully be able to craft the persuasive criminal defense strategy that leads to the positive outcome that you want.