Do I Have to Testify in My Texas Criminal Case?

Criminal courthouse.

If you’re facing criminal charges in Texas, you have every right to be worried. After all, your freedom is on the line, and the Texas criminal justice system is extremely complicated. If you’re like most criminal defendants, one question you probably have is whether you’ll have to testify at trial. Testifying before a judge and jury can be stressful, and most people would rather avoid it. However, as we discuss below, there are several things to consider when deciding whether to testify on your own behalf. After reviewing the information below, please contact an experienced Texas criminal defense attorney for further guidance on this issue. 

You Can’t Be Forced to Testify

If you are a defendant in a criminal case, you can’t be forced to testify at trial. In addition, if you choose not to testify, no one can make you become a witness against yourself. Also, if you choose not to take the stand, the jury can’t take this into account when deciding the outcome of your case.

Deciding Whether to Testify 

As a criminal defendant, you should generally only testify when it is absolutely necessary—and there are very few situations in which this applies. An example of a situation in which you may want to testify is to contradict the police’s version of a statement you made following the arrest. I.e. if there’s something and its not on video and the only method of showing what happened. However, this is rare. A big mistake some defendants make is testifying just to tell their side of the story. This is usually unnecessary, as this can be accomplished through the presentation of defense witnesses, character witness, opening and closing statements by your attorney, and cross-examination of prosecution witnesses. 

An additional reason that it generally isn’t a good idea to testify in your criminal case is that the prosecution presents its case first. This means that many jurors, after hearing the prosecution’s evidence and arguments, often have a reasonable doubt as to your guilt before your attorney even presents your case. However, if you take the stand, these jurors may change their minds if you say anything that calls your innocence, trustworthiness, or character into question. Lots of time, simply the nervousness of testifying can negate against the benefit of testifying.

The decision as to whether or not to testify is made by the client, but with the help of his attorney.

The Bottom Line

As a criminal defendant, you are presumed innocent until proven guilty. Therefore, barring exceptional circumstances, there is no need to testify on your own behalf in your criminal case, as it is simply too much of a risk.  

Contact an El Paso Criminal Defense Lawyer 

If you are facing criminal charges in Texas, you need an aggressive and experienced legal team on your side. At the Benjamin Law Firm, our El Paso attorneys will utilize our exceptional negotiation and courtroom skills to mount an aggressive attack against your criminal charges. When you choose the Benjamin Law Firm to represent you, we will do everything in our power to preserve your freedom and protect your reputation. Please contact us today for a consultation.

Posted in: Criminal Defense