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Juror who prompted calls for new Ghislaine Maxwell trial turns to lawyer who defended Anna Sorokin.
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Last Updated on: 20th October 2023, 09:16 am
If you’ve been charged with a federal crime, one of the biggest decisions you’ll have to make is whether or not to testify in your own defense. There are good arguments on both sides of this issue, so it’s important to carefully weigh the pros and cons with your attorney.
Here are some potential benefits of taking the witness stand in your own federal criminal case:
The core benefit of testifying is that it’s your best chance to tell your side of the story and respond to the government’s allegations directly. Rather than sitting mute and letting the prosecution define you, testifying may be your best shot at beating the charges.
However, there are also significant risks involved in testifying in your own federal criminal defense case:
The bottom line danger of testifying is that it opens you up to a brutal cross-examination by a seasoned federal prosecutor, which can often do more harm than good. They may catch you in lies or pick your story apart in a way that craters your credibility.
While the decision to testify is highly case-specific, here are some situations where it may help more than hurt:
The overarching theme is that testifying tends to help more if you have a strong, credible story to tell that undercuts the prosecution’s theory of the case. But it’s a huge gamble if their case is already solid without your testimony.
On the other hand, here are some situations where the risks tend to outweigh the rewards of testifying:
The overall takeaway is that if the existing evidence already makes you look guilty, testifying will probably only make things worse. Unless you have an incredible story to tell, it’s usually best to exercise your right not to testify.
While you have the ultimate power to decide whether or not to testify in your federal criminal case, your defense lawyer’s advice should weigh heavily in your decision. Here are some important things for your attorney to consider:
Your attorney knows your case inside and out and can help realistically forecast how testifying is likely to play out. While they can’t force you to stay silent, failing to heed your lawyer’s advice on this issue is extremely risky.
Testifying isn’t necessarily an all-or-nothing decision either. There are some alternatives your lawyer may suggest as well:
While deciding whether to testify in your federal criminal case is extremely high stakes, talking through your options thoroughly with your defense lawyer can help you make the best choice.
There are compelling reasons on both sides of whether to testify in your own federal criminal defense case. While it gives you the chance to tell your side of the story directly, it also opens you up to potentially devastating cross-examination. Consider the specific circumstances carefully and heed the advice of your attorney to decide if the benefits outweigh the substantial risks.
Here are some resources with more information on the pros and cons of testifying in a federal criminal case:
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