Our Guide To Being a Witness in Court

witness preparation tipsWhen it comes to being a witness in court, there’s not exactly a guide on how to do that. Pair this fact with the fact that most people have never been a witness, and it can be tough to know how you’re going to do it. Well, we’ve put together a makeshift guide and are giving you all the info that you need in order to go to court. Here are our witness preparation tips— read on to find out more.

What You Should Do

Pay attention to your subpoena.
Subpoenas are not optional, as much as it would be nice if they would be. Instead, they are enforced by court order and judges will not be happy if you ignore them. Ignoring one will make your life harder, not easier.

Have open communication with your attorney.
Your attorney needs to know the full story and they cannot have a strategy or work well if you haven’t been honest. Even if it is going to make you look bad, be open with your attorney. It will help you in the end.

Speak concisely and clearly. Be honest in your testimony.
Answer questions honestly. You don’t have to over-answer them, but speak clearly and concisely. Don’t lie.

Follow the advice of your attorney.
They will be able to give you valuable advice on how to behave in a deposition or once you are called as a witness in court. Ask them whatever questions you need to. They’re being paid to advise you, so they will advise you and guide you through this process. Discuss what to do with your attorney and they will help you with discovery and prepping for trial as well as your deposition.

Dress for the room.
Dress as nicely as you can for the occasion as it is a sign of respect and will reflect well on you. Dress as well as you can and make sure your outfit is clean, pressed, without wrinkles, and appropriate (somewhat on the formal side). The same goes for your hair and/or makeup– go for conservative over controversial, obviously.

What Not to Do

Don’t explain more than you have to.
Just answer the question and do not explain more than that unless prompted. Don’t be a people pleaser. Your job is to answer the question asked of you, not ‘help’ anyone.

Do not be flippant, humorous, or a personality.
You are not making a cameo on a late night talk show, you are appearing as a witness in court. Try to be serious at all times. Any other emotion, especially if it is humorous, sarcastic, flippant, or ‘showcasing’ your personality is not likely to go over well. You can count on any judge disliking this behavior and you may end up in contempt of court. Also, saying words or sentences that you do not mean seriously will be recorded as literal, so it is important to be very deliberate about what you say.

Don’t space out.
Being a witness is serious business, and focus is required at all times. Don’t let your mind wander or yourself daydream. You must pay attention to the questions because it could result in mistakes. You have to know what you are being asked in order to answer.

Don’t ask for a break at trial– only during deposition.
As a witness during deposition, it is fine to take a break for a drink or to go to the restroom. But don’t even think of doing it at trial– that’s up to the judge. You will only look entitled so just prepare for the testimony as best you can.

Do not be intoxicated.
Even if that were how you deal with stress normally, it is a very bad idea to enter a courtroom intoxicated! Being put on the spot would also put even more pressure on you, thus revealing your intoxication. Do not drink, do drugs, or take medication for the first time or that could make you drowsy. You have to be coherent and mentally with it on the stand. Be sure you have hydrated and eaten a snack or meal before taking the stand so you don’t worry about passing out.

Do not answer something you did not hear or comprehend.
That’s a recipe for disaster. You are able to have the question asked again or stated in a different way. Do not answer unless you heard and can understand the question!

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