In Canada, the constitution provides every Candian citizen with a right to silence, which guarantees that you won’t be required to take the stand in your trial. However, you’re free to testify in your defence if you want. There are specific circumstances in which you may need to take the stand to advance a certain defence.
One typical example of such extraordinary situations is when your legal team asks you to take the stand in front of a court to provide a statement about your mental condition at the time of the offence. Nonetheless, if you don’t need to take the stand, you should avoid doing so.
Taking the stand in front of a judge means you’re inviting the Crown Prosecutor to cross-examine you. This may put you in a particular situation in which you may have to answer specific questions, ultimately undermining your defence. Always consult your expert lawyer as to whether it would be wise for you to take the stand.
Choosing to take the stand in your criminal trial will result in direct examination and cross-examination. During direct examination, your attorney will ask you some open-ended questions so you can present your side of the story to assist your defence in front of the judge and jury.
During cross-examination, the Crown Prosecutor will ask you some closed-ended questions to damage your defence by undermining your credibility and honesty in front of the jury. As this is an increasingly stressful experience for many, it can likely weaken your case, that’s why it’s best to avoid taking the stand in your trial where possible.
If you have to take the stand in your trial, your legal team must use their trial advocacy skills to prepare you, and make sure that you present your case in the best possible way to strengthen your defence.
Keep in mind the following vital things if you expect to take the stand at your trial to prepare yourself for your trial day:
Always Listen To Your Lawyer’s Advice
Your criminal defence lawyer has a significant amount of knowledge, skills, and experience that they have gained over the years of criminal law practice. If your attorney advises you to do or avoid doing specific things, take their advice about taking the stand very seriously if you want to ensure your success at your trial.
Prepare A Written Statement
Always make notes of all the crucial information and events regarding your alleged criminal charge to enhance your chance of succeeding during a trial. Preparing a written statement will provide you with an opportunity to review your case before your trial to help you keep events’ and memories fresh in your mind.
This exercise, in turn, will help you remember all the vital events as they occurred, and make you appear more credible in your responses.
Taking the stand can be extremely stressful and can make you nervous and angry during cross-examination by the Crown Prosecutor. Most of the questions asked by them are specifically designed to make the defendant feel enraged and cause them to react poorly.
So, if you respond to their questions in an over-defensive fashion, it may portray a negative impact on your part as far as the judge and the jury are concerned. That’s why it’s vital to remain cool, calm, and relaxed at all times when you decide to take the stand at your trial.
You’ll have to testify when you take the stand in your trial. It’s of the highest importance that you remain truthful about every matter, even if it could damage your defence. Suppose you lie in your testimony, and the court finds it, it will result in damaging your credibility as well as defence. In addition to that, you’ll be charged with perjury, which is another severe criminal offence.
Slaferek Callihoo is an experienced criminal defence law firm based in Edmonton, Alberta. Visit our website to learn more about our professional legal services or contact us to get free legal consultation.