If you are indicted and charged with a crime, you need to know and exercise your legal rights. For instance, the 5th Amendment accords to you the right against self-incrimination. It also protects you from incriminating yourself. And, it reaffirms your right to legal representation.
If your case goes to trial, one of the most important decisions you will need to make is whether or not you should testify in your own defense. You need to take a couple of things into account when making this critical decision. Here are some of them:
You will be giving up the privilege against self-incrimination
The accused person’s right to remain silent is one of the key foundations of the American justice system. However, in choosing to testify, you will be giving up certain rights. This is because you will be voluntarily making statements about a potentially incriminating matter.
You may find yourself having to answer questions that you would otherwise prefer not to answer. If you are not comfortable having to answer questions that can potentially incriminate you, then you are better off avoiding the witness stand.
The jury could raise questions based on your conduct
It is important to think about how the jury will perceive you. Most often, the jury will closely scrutinize your behavior on the stand and closely look out for signs of guilt. Appearing evasive, nervous or uncomfortable while giving your side of the story might give the jury the impression that you are trying to hide something.
If you are charged with a crime, you have the right to decide whether to testify in your case or not. However, whether or not you should take the stand in your defense is a decision that you should always make in close consultation with your defense team.