Tips for Testifying

Last updated on June 3, 2021

The following tips will help you when you are testifying.

  • Answer questions with as much detail as you can remember. Remember: 
    • The judge does not know anything about the case except what is presented as evidence
    • Even if you gave a written statement to police, the judge or jury will not have seen or heard it
    • Usually your statement is not evidence - your spoken testimony is.
  • Only answer the question asked.
  • Take as much time as you need to consider your answer.
  • Look at the judge or jury when answering.
  • Speak clearly and slowly so everyone can hear your answers. Courtroom microphones are used to record witnesses’ voices, not to make them louder.
  • Speak your answers. The microphone cannot record a nod or head shake.
  • Listen carefully to the question. Wait until the lawyer has finished speaking before you answer.
  • Ask for clarification if you do not understand the question.
  • Behave respectfully. Do not be sarcastic, lose your temper, joke or argue with the lawyers.
  • If you are asked to identify the accused, look around the entire courtroom to ensure they are the accused before you answer.
  • Ask for a break or glass of water if you need one.
  • Always tell the truth and do not exaggerate, guess or use words that are unclear. If you are unsure about something, clearly say so.

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