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Deciding whether it is a good idea to testify in your own defense

According to the National Association for Court Management, legal organizations in Iowa report as many as 58 percent of cases go to court and involve a party who has no representation. Statistics like these may vary, but it is certainly true that many defendants feel compelled to testify in their own behalf. If you are one of them, you may be wondering whether or not it will be beneficial to your case. There are several things you should consider in making the decision, including the following.

You will be under intense scrutiny

Many people who elect to represent themselves are unprepared for the intense scrutiny they will be subjected to at the hands of the judge and jury, and of course, the prosecution. It is difficult to determine what presentation, body language and phrasing will be the most persuasive to your audience. The pressure can be overwhelmingly stressful for anybody who has never been in such a situation before.

Damaging testimony can sink your case

Regardless of the circumstances of your case, you should never be dishonest in your testimony. If you are representing yourself and the prosecution asks a direct question, there are plenty of reasons why your answer may not be beneficial to your case. When you are representing yourself, though, you will be forced to confront questions and attacks calmly. If you happen to offer testimony that indicts you in any way, you may sink your own case.

You do not necessarily have to testify at all

In many cases, you are not required to testify in court. If you opt to represent yourself when you are not obligated to, it is very possible that you are doing more harm than good. It is worth considering whether observing your right to silence may be the better choice for the sake of your case.

An attorney can provide a rigorous defense

There are many reasons people opt to represent themselves rather than hire an attorney. One of the most common, however, is the thought that you simply do not need a lawyer for a job you can do yourself. Though you certainly can choose to testify in your own defense, you cannot provide the rigorous advocacy that a legal representative brings to court. Only a lawyer can represent you with experience and expertise.

There is a lot on the line when you are going to court, and you deserve the best representation. Consulting an attorney may help you better understand your options for defense.

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