Hammer and Gavel in Assault Case

Should You Testify in Your Own Assault Case?

In a second jury trial, Bill Cosby was found guilty of sexual assault charges. During the first case, Mr. Cosby chose not to testify in his defense. During the second trial last month, over two-dozen witnesses testified. However, Mr. Cosby chose not to testify in his defense again during his second trial. The choice not to testify at his trial was probably a calculated defense strategy by Mr. Cosby’s attorneys.

If you are charged with aggravated assault, your case could go to trial. An Arizona aggravated assault attorney can help you determine whether you should testify at your trial.  Because each case is unique, it is important to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney to develop a strategy that gives you the best chance of a positive outcome in your case based on the circumstances relevant to your case.

Choosing Whether to Testify at Your Trial

One of the most difficult decisions for a criminal defense attorney to make is whether to allow his client to testify at a trial. In most cases, a defendant will not testify at a trial unless it is absolutely necessary. As a defendant, you can choose whether to take the stand to testify in your defense. However, your Arizona aggravated assault attorney will guide you in whether testifying at your trial is in your best interest.

Some of the reasons why a defendant chooses not to testify at an Arizona aggravated assault trial include:

  • Cross-Examination Can Be Extremely Difficult

In most cases, clients do not have very much experience testifying in court. Therefore, they are already nervous. However, an experienced prosecutor is extremely comfortable in a courtroom. He has hundreds, if not thousands, of hours of experience questioning witnesses on the stand. Because a client has never gone through a grueling cross-examination, it is impossible to know how that person will do under pressure. Some people may remain calm and focused on only answering the questions that are asked while on the stand. Other people may become angry or upset and blurt out information that may give the prosecutor a new line of questioning or a new angle for arguing guilt.

In addition, the prosecutor typically chooses expert witnesses and law enforcement officers who have experience testifying in court. The prosecution’s witnesses understand how to answer questions and appear calm, collected, and knowledgeable. If a defendant appears nervous, a jury could misinterpret this as a sign of guilt when comparing the performance of the defendant on the stand to that of other witnesses.

  • Focus on Weaknesses in the Prosecution’s Case

In many cases, it is better to focus on the problems with the state’s case against a defendant instead of focusing on the defendant’s story. We want a jury to take a critical look at the evidence presented by the state and determine that the state did not prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. Putting the defendant on the stand in an Arizona aggravated assault trial could take the jury’s focus off the problems with the prosecution’s case. Instead, the jury may focus on a nervous or tense defendant and assume that these emotions mean he is guilty.

  • The Defendant Gave a Statement Before Hiring an Attorney

It is extremely important in all cases, especially an aggravated assault case, to exercise your right to remain silent until you consult with a criminal defense lawyer. However, many people feel compelled to explain or tell their “side of the story” to the police officers because they believe they can clear things up and make the charges go away. Unfortunately, telling your side of the story could backfire.

If the prosecution can cause you to change your story even in the slightest on the witness stand, it can use your prior statement to argue to the jury that you are lying and unreliable. In some cases, the chance of being portrayed as dishonest may be too great to have a defendant testify during his assault trial.

Contact an Arizona Aggravated Assault Attorney for Help

As discussed above, the choice of whether to allow a defendant to testify during his assault case can be very complex. An experienced Arizona aggravated assault lawyer must weigh all options and factors to decide what is in the best interest of the client.

If you are facing aggravated assault charges in Arizona, call our office now to speak with a criminal defense attorney.  These charges are very serious, and you could be facing significant jail time and other consequences that could have a lifelong impact on your ability to work, live where you want, own a firearm, or attend college.