Not many people like testifying in court, particularly if they’re not prepared for trial. As a witness, you’re expected to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, which is not easy. Telling your side of the story is easier when you’re not in court or in front of a jury.
Witnesses are expected to convey their side of the story incredibly, meaning they should be well-prepared for the right results. If you witnessed a car accident and you’re preparing to take the witness stand, you should contact a car accident attorney in Alaska.
Tips for Trial Testimony
The following are some of the tips that can help you prepare to take the witness stand.
1. Being Truthful
If you’re preparing to take the witness stand, being truthful is a minimum expectation. In other words, you should avoid certain things when you take the witness stand, including:
· Arguing to make a point;
· Dodge sensitive questions;
· Changing the facts of what you witnessed;
· Exaggerating the facts of the case, and more.
As a witness, you should always be truthful to avoid exposing yourself to cross-examination. Always remember, that attorneys are trained to detect inconsistencies in witness testimonies. A truthful testimony is typically well-received by courts. In all cases, witness testimonies have favorable and unfavorable points to a case.
2. Listen to Questions Carefully
Not only that, but wait for the question to be asked. Unfortunately, most people become anxious when they take the witness stand. Most witnesses are quick to answer questions being asked and they forget to listen. If you don’t listen to what is being asked, you’ll end up answering a different question and not what was asked. To avoid this confusion, always wait until the question is asked entirely.
3. Answer the Relevant Questions
Witnesses should consider the scope of the questions asked and avoid going beyond the issue at hand. This is more so during cross-examination – just don’t volunteer information on anything else besides the current issue.
Answering the wrong questions will only complicate your case. In other words, you’ll be revealing additional facts to help your ally defeat you. If the answer to a question should be “yes” you should just say what you know even when you feel compelled to provide an explanation to back up your answer. Trying to explain or sugarcoat your testimony makes you look defensive and may harm your credibility.
4. Think before Answering
Failing to think before answering will work against you. Thinking before answering indicates that the witness is concerned with the truth. However, there are some instances when pausing too long can be a disadvantage. For example, if a question is about death.
5. Avoid Guessing Your Answers
If you don’t understand a question or you don’t know the answer to a particular question, seek clarification or say you don’t know. If you forgot certain facts about the case, just say you don’t remember.
Humans are not computers and also humans are subject to errors. Guesswork is the perfect tool for destroying the credibility of your case and losing the case in the long run.
6. Seek Clarification
Some questions can be ambiguous and that’s why you should seek clarification. Ambiguity arises when a statement or word gives off different meanings. In the tense atmosphere of a courtroom, some questions do not make sense. That said, witnesses should never try to second guess a question–just seek clarification. A good way is to ask for the question to be rephrased. By failing to seek clarification, you might be answering the wrong question and wrong testimony.
7. Be Slow to Anger
Always be patient with the questioner. Controlling your emotions will make it impossible for anyone to manipulate you. That said, always keep your emotions in check because you’re likely to lose if you fail to keep your emotions in check.
Lawyers are trained to detect signs of weakness in witnesses. When you’re angry, you’re likely to lose your cool and that’s where a skilled lawyer strikes. For instance, a lawyer will query the witness in an adversarial hoping to distract them.
9. Try to Relax on the Witness Stand
Relaxing at the witness stand is easier said than done. However, relaxed and conversational witnesses perform much better than those who are not composed. While it’s not always easy to keep your calm, it can be achieved if you carefully review the facts of a case and seek the assistance of your legal team. A confident witness can look the judge and jury in the eye and convincingly speak the “truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”
Are you preparing to take the witness stand? If so, you should first consult a legal professional to help you understand how to handle yourself as a witness.