To testify or not to testify—contrary to what it might look like on TV shows, the decision to testify is yours alone, a privilege granted by constitutional right. However, you should make this decision knowing all the possible ramifications and with the guidance of an experienced Pierce County DUI attorney. Your attorney will base his or her advice not only on the facts of the case, but on your potential as a witness.
What do we mean by potential? It means that your countenance on the stand can go a long way toward swaying a jury in your favor—or against it. If you testify, the jury will be expecting you to defend yourself and say that you were not drunk. If you can do this believably, this could make your case. Of course, the flip side is also true. If you are not a good witness, if you don’t come off as believable or sympathetic, this could break your case just as easily. Your ability – or inability – to be a good witness is probably the most important factor in deciding whether or not you should take the stand.
Your attorney will also base his or her advice on the strength of the case both with and without your testimony. If the case can be won on the basis of the testimony of other witnesses, or cross-examination of the state’s witnesses, your attorney may not want to risk putting you on the stand. If, however, your attorney is concerned that the case can’t be won without your testimony, then you will need to assess whether the good you may do in testifying will outweigh the damage that may be done on cross-examination. This is a risk in every case; even the best witness can be made to look bad when cross-examined by the prosecutor. Thus, if you testify, you must do so knowing you’ll cede a little ground.
As you can see, it’s a delicate balance and not a black-and-white decision. If you would like the advice of an experienced Pierce County DUI lawyer, please use the Free Case Evaluation form on this page to tell me about your situation, or call or email me directly.