Testifying In Court Regarding Criminal Allegations

Nobody likes having to testify in Court. It is a nervous experience, especially if you are accused of some sort of wrong doing, or if a friend or family member is so accused and you are in Court concerning the accusation. If there is a possibility that the answer could incriminate yourself, you have a 5th Amendment Privilege not to testify.  There are other instances in which privilige can be asserted in order to limit or prevent the testimony from being offered.  Whenever you have a question about a privilege that may apply to your situation, you should consult with a lawyer.  In the absence of a privilege, testimony can be compelled. 
When I prepare my client and/or a witness to testify in Court, I always give them the same advice concerning their testimony:
FIRST: Testify truthfully. If you are inconsistent, it will be brought out during questioning. Attorneys that litigate are trained in the examination and cross examination of a witness. They are prepared for the testimony - and often will have statements that they will allege that you previously made in a police report, a doctor's report, a child protective services report, etc..
SECOND: Listen to the entire question before you give an answer. If you do not understand the question, ask for the question to be repeated or rephrased.
THIRD: Answer only the question that is asked of you. If your answer drifts into other areas, it makes it seem like you are being evasive.
FOURTH: Do not speculate or guess. If you know the answer to a question, go ahead and answer the question - don't guess or speculate in order to give an answer.
FIFTH: Do not get into a pissing contest with the Prosecutor. Maintain your composure. Remember, that the Prosecutor is doing a job that he or she is trained to do. If you take what the Prosecutor is doing personally, it will make the experience worse and it could affect you believability.
SIXTH: Dress appropriately. If you want the Judge or Jury to respect your answers, dress in a way that shows that you respect yourself.
SEVENTH: Come prepared. If you are subpoenaed to bring documents with you, make sure that you do. If the documents contain your own statements, make sure you know what those statements are (unless the documents are sealed).
EIGHTH: Remove any bubble gum or food from your mouth prior to entering the Court room.
NINTH: When you answer a question, make sure you are clear. A court reporter cannot record a head nod. The court reporter cannot interpret words like uh-huh. Judges and jurors may not understand slang - and they may not respect your testimony if you speak in slang.
TEN: Be on time. Courts, and attorneys, do not like to wait. If you have any concern that your testimony may incriminate yourself in any way, consult with an attorney before you are called to testify.
If you are on trial, accused of a crime, consider the advice of your attorney regarding trial strategy, before making the decision to testify or to offer any witnesses to testify.
Again, there are also certain other reasons why you may not wish to testify, such as if there is a privilege involved. The attorney should be able to tell you if the privilege you want to assert is valid or not. In most instances you have at least 48 hours notice before testifying. If you fail to appear for Court when you are subpoenaed, there is a risk that you could be found in contempt of court. In some instances the Prosecution will ask for a material witness warrant if you fail to appear, which gives the police the ability to arrest you and hold you in custody to insure that you will appear and offer testimony.
Do not wait until the last minute to consult with an attorney.
Hiring the right criminal defense lawyer may be one of the most important decisions you make for yourself and your family. There are many lawyers who claim to do more than what they are able - just as there are many surgeons in the world that are no better than butchers. Do not settle for a legal hack job. Practicing law is a skill that develops over time with experience, commitment, dedication, and God given talent. There are no amateur attorneys at Hilf & Hilf, PLC – only professionals that are guided by the humanity in the individuals we serve, and the drive not to settle for what is easy over what is right.

How Can a Probation Violation Affect Your Future?

Are you facing accusations of probation violations? These allegations should not be taken lightly because this is a criminal charge with serious consequences including incarceration or probation extension. Hiring an experienced criminal...

Corporate Immigration Lawyer

  Corporate Immigration Law Firm. Hilf & Hilf, PLC represents a diverse, complex range of clients including multinational corporations, United States corporations, privately held companies, start up ventures, partnerships, small...

Lawyer Search Immigration

Immigration At the law firm of Hilf & Hilf, PLC, we specialize in helping individuals, families, and employers navigate the difficulties that come with immigration. In our years of experience practicing immigration law, we have a...

Lawyer Search Criminal

Criminal Defense A criminal charge can follow you around for years. It can affect your ability to gain employment, purchase a home or car, even ruin relationships. If you've been accused of a crime, you need an experienced criminal...

Lawyer Search Misdemeanor

Criminal Defense A criminal charge can follow you around for years. It can affect your ability to gain employment, purchase a home or car, even ruin relationships. If you've been accused of a crime, you need an experienced criminal...

Lawyer Search Felony

Criminal Defense A criminal charge can follow you around for years. It can affect your ability to gain employment, purchase a home or car, even ruin relationships. If you've been accused of a crime, you need an experienced criminal...

Attorney Fee for Criminal Lawyer

There is no set guideline or rule as to how much a criminal lawyer charges for a given case.  How much a lawyer charges may depend upon a variety of factors: the nature of the charge; the anticipated amount of work that needs to be performed;...

What Rights Are Lost After a Felony Conviction?

As Americans, we revere our civil liberties and hold our rights close to our hearts. However, if you are convicted of a felony, then you will lose some of those rights. Since a felony charge always carries serious penalties and life altering...

Who Can Be Charged as an Accessory to a Crime?

If you pay even a small amount of attention to our judicial system, or you stay abreast with the latest high profile criminal court cases, then you've probably heard about someone being charged as an accessory to a crime. While this term...

Gay Marriage Immigration

A United States citizen or a lawful permanent resident (green card holder) who is in a same sex marriage to a foreigner can petition their spouse in the same manner that was once reserved only for heterosexual couples.  Your eligibility to...

Dog Bite Cases

In Michigan, dog bite cases are sometimes addressed through civil law proceedings, criminal prosecutions, or both. Civil Dog Bite Cases In order for the Plaintiff (injured party) to prevail on a civil lawsuit, generally 4 things need to...

Chinese Student Lawyer

Thousands of Chinese nationals come to Michigan every year under visas that allow for foreign students to reside and study in the United States.  Most Chinese students spend their time at the University of Michigan, Michigan State University,...
Confidential Consultations: 248-792-2590
Client Reviews:

  • Ms. Sufen Hilf is an efficient, thorough, prompt and effective attorney. She has made the horrible immigration situation more bearable and has never given up in my case ever when the situation seemed impossible to resolve. I truly recommend Ms. Hilf in any immigration case. John Smith | View All Reviews
  • Sufen is one of the finest immigration lawyers in the area. She cares about her clients and works harder than most at achieving the best possible results. She is a real fighter for her clients. Barbara | View All Reviews
  • Daniel is the best trial lawyer I have known. He cares about his clients and always fights for the best results for his clients in the Courts. He prepares his clients and witnesses thoroughly before Court hearing dates/trials, and studies all the reports in detail. He is a fighter for all his clients in Courts. He has won numerous jury trials in his career. Chris | View All Reviews