If you are a Defendant and want to testify in your criminal trial there are several things you should consider.
What will the jury think? The jury will always be told that they cannot use the fact that a Defendant does not testify when deciding their verdict. However, an instruction by the judge does not automatically change people’s minds about how they feel. Many jurors want to hear the Defendant testify even if they won’t admit it during jury selection. Testifying is not always the best choice though. If you have a criminal record each conviction could be used against you. While those previous convictions may not have a lot to do with the current case the jury may use your criminal history when determining whether or not they believe your testimony.
Can you handle the pressure? Testifying is not a one way street. You don’t just get to tell your side of the story and then sit down. The State of Texas is free to question you as well. The questions prosecutors will ask you will not be pleasant, they will be uncomfortable, and sometimes they can bring out the worst in people. If you are able to stay calm and collected prosecutors may try to confuse you to make you look like you are lying. If you are not able to effectively testify it may be better to not testify at all.
What does your attorney say? Your attorney should be able to tell you the pros and cons of you testifying. Some attorneys do not like to put their clients on the stand, while others are comfortable with it. Your attorney may have a really good reason for wanting/not wanting you to testify despite your personally feelings.
In the end though the decision of whether or not to testify in 100% up to you as the defendant. An attorney cannot prevent their client from taking the witness stand.
At the Christiansen Law Firm we make sure that each of our clients understand the pros and cons of the decisions they have to make. We give accurate legal advice and in the end respect the wishes of each of our clients and center our defense around them.