Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Testify at Trial
If you are facing criminal charges, the decision of whether to testify at trial is an important one. The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution provides the right against self-incrimination, meaning that the accused cannot be forced to testify in a criminal trial. During a jury selection, the criminal defense lawyer and the judge will inform potential jurors that a defendant’s failure to testify at trial is not evidence of guilt. The jury cannot use a defendant’s failure to testify to determine the defendant guilty, but this sometimes happens regardless.
There are inherent risks associated with a defendant not testifying at trial, and some jurors falsely believe that only a guilty person would not choose to testify at trial. However, if you have previously been convicted of a felony or crime of moral turpitude, it is possible that you could be cross-examined by the prosecution to establish your prior convictions. The chance of being convicted is higher once a jury knows that the defendant has been convicted of previous crimes, and so some defendants choose to not testify.
You should also consider not testifying at your trial if you are in a situation where the truth would tend to convict you. Also, if you have made inconsistent statements related to key facts in your case, it is wise to not testify at trial. If you are facing criminal charges of any kind, it is crucial that you hire a New Jersey criminal defense attorney who can help you decide whether to testify at trial. Contact a criminal defense lawyer at the law firm of Benjamin G. Kelsen today!