Should a defendant take the stand during a criminal trial?

One of the key decisions a defendant makes in regard to a Florida criminal trial is whether or not to take the stand to testify on their own behalf. There are a number of important factors to consider when it comes to the issue of a criminal defendant testifying in a case.

Demeanor and personality of the defendant

When planning a criminal defense, an important consideration for the defense attorney is whether to let the accused take the stand. One of the primary considerations in making this decision is the general demeanor of the person being prosecuted. The bottom line is that some individuals are more personable and make a better presentation than others.

With that said, even the most pleasant, agreeable individual can reach a breaking point on the stand, especially during cross-examination. Consequently, an intensive dry run of a prospective cross-examination is important to glean an idea of how a particular defendant will perform under these circumstances in a criminal trial.

The attitude of juries toward people who don’t testify

Despite the fact that juries are admonished not to draw any negative inferences from a defendant electing not to take the stand in a criminal trial, time and again, jurors tend to do just that. Perhaps it can be chalked up to human nature, but the reality is that many a juror seems naturally inclined to read “guilt” when a person on trial for committing a crime elects not to testify on their own behalf.

The decision of whether to testify rests entirely with a criminal defendant personally. An attorney cannot make this decision for the defendant. With that said, a criminal defendant is wise to consult closely with their criminal defense attorney when making the decision about taking the stand.

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