Tips for Testifying in Court
Witnesses naturally feel apprehensive about their first appearance in court because they do not know what to expect. The following suggestions should help you prepare for your court appearance:
- You will be asked to take an oath to tell the truth. Remember the seriousness of this oath during the entire time you are testifying. If you willfully fail to tell the truth while testifying, you will be subject to penalties for perjury.
- Simply tell the truth.
- Listen carefully to the questions, pause (in case there is an objection to the question on the part of an attorney), and answer slowly and clearly.
- Answer only the questions asked. Do not offer additional information or opinions unless asked.
- Do not exaggerate. Be factual.
- Do not lose your temper. Be courteous.
- If you do not understand the question, ask for clarification or repeat it back to ensure understanding.
- If you can't answer a question with a yes or no, you should say so.
- If your answer was not correctly stated, correct it immediately.
- If an attorney objects to a question, wait until the judge indicates whether you should give an answer.
- Remember to dress appropriately. Hats and scarves may not be worn in the courtroom but for health and/or religious observation exceptions.
It is natural to be nervous. Take a few deep breaths to calm yourself and try to avoid nervous mannerisms.