The Cook & Tolley Blog

The dilemma of defendants taking the stand

In preparation for your criminal trial in Georgia, you will have to consider whether it is a smart idea to take the stand. The U.S legal definition states that the state has to prove your alleged crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Even when accused of a crime, you retain your rights. The severity of your crime does not matter in regards to which rights you retain. You have specific privileges in the courtroom. These fundamental rights include:

  • A right to a public trial
  • A right to representation
  • A right to a speedy trial
  • A right to a jury of your peers
  • A right to avoid double jeopardy

Defendants can also stand up for themselves or they can remain silent in front of the jury. The defense lawyer works with his or her client to determine the best option. There are benefits and disadvantages to a defendant that takes the stand.

The New York Times suggests that the most difficult part of a defendant taking the stand comes with the cross-examination. Prosecutors prefer their shot at the defendant because they know how to trip up a defendant with questions. When tripped up, the defendant looks worse in front of the jury and may lose credibility. Most of the decision hinges on whether the defendant can perform well under pressure.

When the defense takes the stand, the trial is less about who is right and who is wrong. How honest you are on the witness stand only matters as much as your performance. The decision to take the witness stand depends on you and your attorney’s strategy.

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