Should You Testify at Your Criminal Trial in Kansas?
If you have been charged with a crime and are awaiting trial in Kansas, you could truly be in for the fight of your life. The outcome of your case could impact your life for decades to come, and a guilty verdict could have devastating consequences beyond the criminal penalties the court imposes. With everything that is on the line, should you testify at your criminal trial? Here are some considerations from Johnson County criminal defense attorney Jerry Merrill:
1. You Do Not Have to Testify at Your Criminal Trial
First, to be clear, you do not have to testify at your criminal trial. The Fifth Amendment’s privilege against self-incrimination entitles you not to testify, and this is true regardless of what you might (or might not) have to say about the crime with which you have been charged.
2. If You Choose to Testify, the Prosecution Will Be Able to Cross-Examine You
If you choose to testify at your trial, you cannot answer your attorney’s questions and then refuse to sit for questioning by the prosecution. You must take the stand for cross-examination, and you must either answer the prosecution’s questions or assert your privilege against self-incrimination in front of the jury.
3. Testifying Could Work to Your Advantage . . . Or It Could Backfire
Depending on the circumstances of your case, testifying on your own behalf could work to your advantage. If you have a clear alibi, for example, stating where you were at the time that the alleged offense was committed could carry a significant amount of weight in the minds of the jury.
However, it could also backfire. If members of the jury think you are lying, if you say the wrong thing, or if you simply get nervous and struggle to form coherent thoughts, testifying could harm your defense. As a result, among other factors, when deciding whether to testify you need to consider not only what might say, but also how you might say it.
4. You May Have Other, Less-Risky Arguments and Evidence Available
While testifying is one way to present evidence in your criminal trial, there are many other ways to defend against criminal charges as well. If your attorney has other evidence he or she can present in court, or if the prosecution’s evidence is lacking, then it might be worth it to take the risk of taking the stand.
5. You Need to Rely on the Advice of Your Criminal Defense Attorney
Ultimately, when deciding whether to testify at your trial, you need to rely on the advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Your attorney should provide advice based on the specific facts of your case and the likelihood that testifying will (or will not) improve your chances of securing a not-guilty verdict in court.
Are You Facing a Criminal Charge in Johnson County? Schedule a Free Consultation Today
Have you been charged with a crime in Johnson County, Kansas? To discuss your case with criminal defense attorney Jerry Merrill in confidence, call 913-381-2085 or request a free consultation online now.