Those who have been convicted of a crime in Texas have the option of whether or not they want to take the stand. Many believe that taking the stand will allow them to share their side of the story. However, a skilled prosecutor can make even an innocent person look guilty upon cross-examination. This can bring up the question of whether it’s best to take the stand or to avoid it at all costs.
The reasons against doing so
Many criminal defense lawyers will highly advise against their clients taking the stand. Their stance is that it can potentially cause more harm than good. While a defendant may want to proclaim their innocence, the risks of sounding guilty may be too high to do so.
Jurors take stalk of every witness that takes the stand. When a person charged with a crime is put on the stand, they may act in a way that makes them seem untrustworthy. For example, they may stutter due to nervousness or they may seem as if they’re lying even though they simply don’t know the answer to the question they were asked. If the defendant gets overly emotional, they can be pegged as faking it. If they choose to show no emotion, they may be deemed automatically guilty.
An unpredictable live performance
While a defendant can practice cross-examination with their legal defense team to prepare for their testimony, that isn’t a guarantee that everything will go smoothly. When a defendant takes the stand, they are giving a live performance to the judge and jury. They don’t get to cut and ask for another take. If the DA throws the defendant questions they aren’t prepared to answer, it can change the overall outcome of the trial.
Taking the stand is something that most people are used to seeing as a big action scene in a blockbuster movie. The reality is that most criminal defense lawyers advise their clients not to take the stand unless it’s absolutely necessary. Many times, the risks of what could go wrong on the stand outweigh any positive benefits of taking it.