Why a Criminal Defense Attorney in Columbus IN May Prefer That Clients Do Not Testify

by | Nov 30, 2018 | Lawyer

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As a Criminal Defense Attorney in Columbus IN prepares a case for trial, this lawyer will have a preference as to whether or not the client testifies in court. There are potential advantages and disadvantages of having the client testify. One of the issues is how well the defendant handles cross-examination by the prosecution. In some respects, this part of the process is more challenging for defendants than direct examination by the prosecution is.

Combative Prosecuting Lawyers

Some lawyers tend to become a bit combative during direct and cross-examination, sometimes to rattle defense witnesses and the defendant. A Criminal Defense Attorney in Columbus IN typically coaches the client beforehand so the individual is ready for this type of behavior. The defense lawyer will object under certain circumstances, but this is not always advisable.


Cross-examination tends to be the most unpredictable part of a trial, which is another reason defense lawyers may not want the client to testify. The prosecution will typically want to undermine the defendant’s credibility, which then casts doubt on his or her innocence. Even when the defendant seems like a person the jury will feel sympathetic to, a misstep during cross-examination can unravel the defense’s case.

Lack of Experience

A defendant can be seriously out of his or her league when testifying in a felony case. Although the prosecution may have some inexperienced witnesses, many of its witnesses are experienced at giving testimony in court. Law enforcement officials, for example, may have done this numerous times in the past. They tend to handle cross-examination calmly. In contrast, people who have never testified in court before probably will feel anxious, which can cause them problems on the stand.

The Aspect of Proving Innocence

Although the jury is instructed that the prosecution must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, jury members tend to start expecting the defense to prove innocence once the defendant testifies. That’s another reason why attorneys with a firm such as Alcorn Sage Schwartz & Magrath LLP may advise clients not to take the stand in court. Anyone who needs a defense lawyer may visit the website for details.