How to Testify at Trial

1. The most important thing to remember is to listen carefully to the question asked of you, answer that question and only that question, and then stop your testimony.  For example, if you are asked the date of a certain occurrence, state the date, but do not go on to comment on what occurred on that date.


2. While you should answer only the question that is put to you, you should be as courteous as possible to opposing counsel and not attempt to engage in a battle of wits with him/her.


3. If you do not understand a question put to you, state so, and the question will be rephrased.


4. You should not volunteer any information.  After the question is asked, answer it and stop. If you can answer a question with a “yes” or a “no,” you should do so, and then stop.


5. Remember, you are under oath to tell the truth.  You must tell the truth.  If you believe you may be asked questions on areas that may be damaging to you and you do not wish to reveal the facts, you should discuss these areas with your attorney before the trial.


6. For various reasons, your attorney may object to a question asked of you.  If she objects, you should stop testifying until the reason for the objection is stated.  At the end of the objection, your attorney or the judge will instruct you as to whether you are allowed to answer the question.


7. You should always testify as to the facts and not as to your opinions.


8. You may become concerned that due to the way in which a question was phrased, if you give only the answer to the question, the complete truth will not come out.  You should not concern yourself with this.  It is your attorney’s job to make sure the truth comes out in other ways, such as during your direct examination.  You should only answer the question put to you.

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