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Your decision to decline to testify in your criminal case

On Behalf of | Jun 21, 2024 | Criminal Defense |

If your criminal case has reached the trial phase, there are many strategic decisions to make about how to proceed with your defense. Our readers in New Jersey have likely seen news coverage of some criminal trials in which the main question is this: Will the defendant testify?

Right against self-incrimination

The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution contains quite a few clauses that protect Americans, but when it comes to criminal trials the most important aspect of this amendment is the right against self-incrimination. This means each defendant has the constitutionally protected right against being forced to testify in their own criminal trials.

The burden is on the prosecution to prove every element of the criminal charges you face beyond a reasonable doubt. In fact, the defense doesn’t actually have to do anything at trial – there is no requirement to call witnesses at all. But, a sound criminal defense strategy may involve calling some witnesses to attempt to rebut the prosecution’s case.

Will you be one of the witnesses in your own trial? This is a difficult decision, in most cases, because if you do testify then the prosecution will have the right to cross-examine you. The decision comes down to weighing whether the positive information you might provide as a defendant outweighs any negative information that the prosecution might elicit or allude to on cross-examination.

Anyone who is facing criminal charges in New Jersey may decide that the best chance they have of obtaining a positive result is to take the case all the way to trial. If you have been charged with a crime, be sure to get the right information about your legal options and ensure that your constitutional rights are protected.

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