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Should I call my client to testify?

A lawyer asked us, “should I advise my client to testify?”

There are many reasons that a defendant in a criminal case cannot testify. I will answer the question assuming that none of those exceptions apply and that your client could testify.

I prefer not to have my clients testify. The two main reasons are that the prosecutor has the burden of proof. Don’t help them out. Don;t add stuff to their case. Next, I don’t like to give the prosecutor the opportunity to cross examine my client. If you have ever watched Law & Order, Jack McCoy always gets the defendant tripped up.

In some cases though, I think its very helpful to call your client. In any case where there is a civilian complainant and no police officers are involved, I really analyze whether to call the client.

If the case is a domestic violence or a sexual assault, with a lot of physical evidence, I call the client to testify.

2 Comments on Should I call my client to testify?

  1. I know of no reason, no reason at all, no never never never, none- that a defendant "cannot" testify.

    It is often a tactical mistake to have your client testify.

    It is NEVER forbidden…

  2. Brian J. Zeiger, Esquire // at 1:23 am // Reply

    I agree with Milo. There is never a reason where your client is forbidden to testify under the law. However, there are many situations where having your client testify is analogous to giving up. I should have been clearer. Thank you Milo.

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