We have seen this question pop up time and time again with federal criminal cases because people want their chance to tell their side of the story. With the federal system making them look bad, they want the chance to even it out. Perhaps you’ve had to sit through the prosecution’s side of the story to the judge and listen to what happened based on their version of the events. You feel amazed that they can tell a story like this about you that has no roots in truth.
When you have to listen to the prosecutor tell this side of the story, you may feel irate because your side of the story isn’t being told. You want to tell the judge that the story has more to it. The prosecutor has taken many things out of context to use them against you in the court of law. In fact, they have misconstrued a great deal of what they should be telling. Another problem is that they’re depending on people who are straight up lying. The prosecutor has painted an ugly and unjustified picture of you. What can you do? When will you get your chance to tell your side of the story?
Unfortunately, the entire process of getting tried in the federal court system has some element of being degraded. For example, you get placed in handcuffs and brought before the federal court judge. They don’t even call you by your name. Instead, they simply call you, the “Defendant.” All of this can feel very degrading.
You don’t want to make a statement that will only cause you to have more prison time. What can you do to get your chance to speak? First, speak with your lawyer because he or she will have the best understanding of how to proceed with the case without making you look bad to the courts. Tell them precisely what you think they need to hear. While your lawyer may say that some of the things that you have told him don’t matter, you could still tell him some things that could be crucial in helping your case. If it matters enough to you, it should matter enough to the lawyer to explain the situation better to you.
This shows that you don’t have the best relationship with your lawyer, and you might be better off looking elsewhere for a different attorney. Your lawyer should have the ability to tell you everything that you need to know about the case. Tell them what you think they absolutely must hear. Not every lawyer will click with every client. In addition, some lawyers simply don’t have good listening skills, but you don’t want this to end up costing you the case. What if they aren’t listening and you tell them a crucial piece of information? Because you only get one chance to have your case heard, you need to have the best legal representation possible.
Some lawyers will tell you that it’d be best if you don’t speak at all to the prosecution or the judge or the jury. However, you do have cases where it might make sense to speak to the judge, jury or prosecution because it could help your case. You should always exercise caution in doing this, however, because while you want your voice heard, you don’t want them to have more to use against you.
When you go to speak in court, you want to look as responsible and polite as possible. Remain and act calm when telling your story. You also want to make sure that everything you say is clear. Whenever you address the judge, you should say, “Yes, your honor,” or “No, your honor.” This shows respect to the judge. In addition, keep your temper under control throughout, and if you don’t think that you can, it’s better to say nothing than to have this go against you in the court system.
Talking is fine under some circumstances, but you have to plan it out correctly. You need to make sure that when you speak, the right person hears it at the right time. If you believe that you’re more than what the prosecution is trying to paint you as, you have a right to speak. However, we would implore you that you speak about this with your attorney first to ensure that whatever you say doesn’t get used against you later. Many lawyers will give you plenty of examples where their client misspoke, and it cost them the case. Understanding when to speak and when to stay quiet it crucial.
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