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Can I testify in my own criminal case?

Posted on December 2, 2021

Facing criminal charges is a big deal. If you are charged with a criminal offense in Colorado, you might be wondering how best you can defend yourself and get out of trouble. And one of the questions you are likely to grapple with is whether or not you should testify in your own criminal case

This is a valid concern. As a defendant in a criminal case, the decision to testify or not is one that you need to carefully think through during your trial. And this is, by no means, an easy decision to make. It is important that you carefully evaluate your options with the help of your defense team. 

Two reasons why you should consider testifying

  • You want to set the record straight

The prosecution is most definitely going to have a narrative they use to drive their case. You may need to counter their version of events with your own so that you can create a compelling justification for your actions.

  • When you have a credible alibi

If you did not commit the crime in question, and you have an alibi to prove it, then testifying in your own trial might make perfect sense. 

Two reasons why testifying might not be a good idea

  • When you fear contradicting yourself

Even after thorough preparation with the help of your legal team, you might still find yourself saying something wrong or contradicting yourself, especially during cross-examination by the prosecution. 

  • You do not have to testify

It is important to understand that the Fifth Amendment protects you from self-incrimination. As such, you are not required by law to testify in your own trial. This is particularly important if you have reason to believe your testimony may be used to support your conviction. 

The decision to testify in your own criminal trial is an important one. It is important that you carefully weigh the merits and demerits of testifying in your own trial before making up your mind.