A decision that has to be made at every preliminary hearing or trial on criminal charges is the decision of whether to take the stand and testify. You have the right to remain silent and do not have to testify if you do not wish to. However, you also have the right to testify on your own behalf, and at trial, your attorney can not prevent you from speaking. Whether you ultimately do speak at your preliminary hearing or trial is an important decision that you should decide with your attorney.
At the preliminary hearing, the temptation is almost overwhelming to tell your side of the story. The police or witnesses may present a story that you may know to be factually untrue, and you’re going to have an intense desire to call them out on it and tell the real story of what happened. However, testifying at your preliminary hearing is almost always a mistake. Its important to remember that at a preliminary hearing, the rule is that credibility of the Commonwealth’s witnesses is not at issue. Anything the Commonwealth’s witnesses say at this time will be taken at face value for purposes of establishing a prima facie case. Any testimony you give can not disprove their story at this time, and it can be used to impeach you at trial if anything you say ends up being able to be shown as potentially inaccurate. Instead, its important to tell the real story to your lawyer, and allow him to build a record out of the Commonwealth’s witnesses that enables you to attack the merits of their case.
At trial, the analysis about whether to testify on your own behalf is entirely different. The pitfall of testifying on your own behalf at trial is that it opens you up to an intense cross examination from the prosecution that can draw out many facts that cast you in a bad light. Also, if you have ever been convicted of prior crimes involving dishonesty (known as crimen falsi), all of these crimes may potentially be submitted into evidence against you. As a legal matter, your decision not to testify can not be held against you. As a practical matter, testifying may be the only way to get your version of facts into evidence, and the jury may judge you in their own minds if you do not. The decision about whether to testify is a personal and strategic decision that should be discussed at length with an experienced attorney.
Thats where Attorney Frank Walker comes in. With years of experience defending the accused at trial, Attorney Walker can help you make these important decisions, and build a sound legal defense to attack the charges. Call Walker Law today at 412-532-6805! Lines are open 24/7 365 to better serve you.
Attorney Frank Walker of Frank Walker Law is a National Top 100 Criminal Defense Lawyer and Personal Injury Attorney with offices in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and Morgantown West Virginia. Attorney Walker is also a member of the National College for DUI Defense and qualified as a Pennsylvania Death Penalty Defense Attorney.
If you or someone you love are facing criminal charges or seriously injured in an accident in WV or PA, contact Attorney Frank Walker immediately at 412-532-6805, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for aggressive and experienced Criminal Defense or Representation following a serious accident or injury.