Northampton, MA

Amherst, MA: 413-549-0022

Will I Have to Take the Stand In My Defense?

Posted on : October 14, 2020, By:  Tom Kokonowski, Esq.
Hampden Larceny Attorney

If you were charged with a crime, you may be wondering if you need to go under oath during your criminal case and give an account that proves your innocence. In reality, most experienced defense lawyers won’t allow their clients to testify on their own behalf unless there truly is no other path to success. Here’s what you need to know about taking the stand in your own defense and how to get the legal help you need. 

Cross-Examination Can Be Used Against You 

Don’t assume that going to bat for yourself under oath is automatically the right move to prove your innocence. If you do take the stand, the prosecution has an equal opportunity to ask you questions. These questions are often designed to make you feel nervous or flustered and cause you to trip over words. This distracts from a lack of evidence and makes the jury “feel” like you might be guilty. 

Making a Claim of Innocence Isn’t Needed 

It’s not necessary for you to take the stand in your criminal case and speak to your own innocence on the record. This is because every defendant is considered innocent until they’re proven guilty during the criminal trial process. Allow the prosecution to bring forward evidence against you, since they are the party who has the responsibility to do so. The burden of proof does not belong to you. 

The Court May Start to Believe You Should Prove Your Case 

If you take the stand and testify to your innocence, the idea of who has the burden of proof in your case may begin to shift. The jury may start to believe that it’s your responsibility to prove your innocence instead of the prosecution’s responsibility to prove your guilt. 

A Smarter Way to Defend Yourself 

The ideal defense strategy focuses on the fact that the prosecution does have the burden of proof and looking for ways to poke holes in whatever evidence they have against you. For example, if some or all of the prosecution’s evidence was obtained during an illegal search and seizure, your criminal defense lawyer should file a motion to have this evidence dismissed. 

How a Massachusetts Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help You 

Were you arrested and charged with a crime? You need comprehensive legal support to ensure you have the best chances of winning your case. Call now for an initial consultation at 413-585-9200 (Northampton), 413-549-0022 (Amherst), or 413-737-9700 (Springfield).