Michigan CSC Trial: Preparing the Falsely Accused to Testify
A criminal defendant has the constitutional right to not testify in the case against him, and the jury cannot legally hold his decision to not testify against him. However, in certain cases it may be beneficial for the defendant to testify on his own behalf in order to bolster his credibility with the jury. Credibility with the jury is crucial to the jury’s belief of the defendant’s claim that he is being falsely accused.
Going Over the Weak Points of a CSC Case
A child sexual abuse case may have many weak points that do not favor the defense. In order to prepare the defendant to testify about these weak points, the defense attorney should go over every weak point with the defendant, practicing how the questions will be asked and advising on the best way to answer each question. In order to do this, the defense attorney must be able to predict the questions the prosecutor will ask.
A defense attorney should advise the falsely accused defendant to refer to physical evidence in the case, if there is any, and if the evidence supports the defendant’s side of the story. The jury will be more easily persuaded if they can tie the defendant’s claims to hard evidence. In preparing the defendant to testify, a defense attorney should advise him on a different way to explain his story so as to avoid incriminating himself further or risking his credibility with the jury.
Body Language and Attitude During a CSC Trial Testimony
The defendant should be reminded that the jury is not only considering what he says on the stand, but also what he does not say, as well as what his body language is like while testifying. If the defendant has an attitude during cross examination or appears hostile to the prosecutor, the jury is less likely to be convinced of the defendant’s version of events.
Short and Simple Answers are Best
The defendant should also be advised to keep his answers short and simple. If he can answer any question with a “yes” or “no,” he should do so. If the defendant does not understand the question being asked, it is okay to state that he does not understand the question; doing this will avoid the defendant giving an answer that the defense attorney is not prepared for. Additionally, the defendant should understand that it is always okay to answer, “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember,” if those answers are truthful.
Do NOT Commit Perjury
Most importantly, the defendant must testify truthfully. He cannot commit perjury, even if he believes it will help his case. If a criminal defense attorney discovers the client’s intent to commit perjury before the attorney accepts the case, the rules of professional ethics state that the attorney must refuse representation. If the criminal defense attorney discovers this intent after taking the case, but before trial, the attorney is legally obligated to attempt to withdraw from the case, but is also obligated to not disclose the perjury. If the attorney discovers his client’s intent to perjure himself immediately before taking the stand or during the client’s testimony, the attorney is permitted to ask the client to testify in a narrative fashion by asking “what do you wish to say to the jury?” This will allow the client to satisfy is constitutional right to testify, but will also protect the attorney from suborning perjury.
As you can tell a criminal trial is a complex process, especially when it comes to sex crime charges. The attorneys of Grabel & Associates have a proven track record of aggressively fighting for their clients. Do not attempt to navigate your criminal case without the help of an experienced attorney, call our office 24/7 at 1-800-677-9795 or use the Contact Us form for a no-cost, confidential consultation.