When you make the decision to take your criminal case to trial, you immediately turn your attention to whether you should testify in your own defense. The decision of whether to testify in your criminal case is perhaps the largest decision that you have to make when it comes to trial strategy. There are many different opinions on whether a defendant should testify on their own behalf.
While you may have heard that a defendant should never testify in their own case, that isn’t necessarily the case. There are some circumstances where it’s very important for a criminal defendant to speak on their own behalf. Should you testify in your criminal case in Tampa? Here’s what you need to know.
Should I testify in my Tampa, Florida criminal case?
Whether you should testify in your Tampa, Florida criminal case depends on the exact circumstances of your case. For most criminal defendants, it’s not a good idea to testify in a criminal case. Usually, testifying is damaging to the case because it opens the door for tough cross-examination of a person who is not experienced in testifying in court. However, when the case depends on the testimony of a lay witness like an assault case, it may be beneficial for the jury to hear directly from the defendant.
Testifying in your own defense in Tampa, Florida
When you’re considering whether you should testify in your criminal case, it’s important to understand the risks that go along with taking the witness stand. When you testify in court, you waive your right to remain silent. Although you begin with questions from your own attorney, the state attorney also has the opportunity to ask you questions. You don’t get to know the questions from the state attorney in advance.
It’s your choice whether to testify in court. You have the right to remain silent, and you do not have to incriminate yourself by testifying in your own defense. Testifying in court can be an extremely stressful experience. You’re up against the state’s witnesses who often have experience testifying in criminal trials. The jury evaluates your tone and your body language. When you’re nervous and under stress, you may not come across in a positive light even if you’re innocent of the charges against you.
Defendant testimony and the burden of proof
The state has to prove its charges against you. If the state doesn’t prove every element of your claim, you should receive a not guilty verdict. Usually, the best strategy in a Tampa criminal case is to decline to testify and point out the flaws in the state’s case. You simply show where the state fails to prove each element of the case beyond a reasonable doubt.
When should you testify in a Tampa criminal case?
There are some situations where it may be in your best interest to testify in your own defense in a Tampa criminal case. In some situations, the case comes down to the testimony of a single, lay witness or multiple lay witnesses. For example, in an assault case, there may be a single witness who accuses you. You may be claiming self-defense. In situations where the case comes down to the testimony of a single witness or you’re presenting an affirmative defense like entrapment, necessity or self-defense, it may be in your best interests to testify in your criminal case.
How to decide whether to testify in a Tampa criminal case
Whether to testify in a Tampa criminal case depends on the unique facts present in your case. It’s a big decision, and an experienced Tampa criminal defense attorney like William Hanlon Criminal Defense Attorney in Tampa can help you make the right choice. You should carefully consider the pros and cons of testifying and make a decision based on the type of case against you, the witnesses for the state and your defense strategy.