Although a majority of criminal cases end up in plea agreements negotiated by a criminal lawyer on behalf of a client, some cases do end up being tried. When it comes to criminal defence, a primary decision in the proceedings involves the decision to settle or a try a case.
If a criminal case is to be tried, a defendant needs to properly prepare for the courtroom proceedings. A criminal lawyer will devote a considerable amount of time working with a client to ensure t hat he or she is prepared for trial proceedings.
The Decision to Testify
A major decision faced by a criminal lawyer and a client is whether or not the defendant in a criminal case should testify on his or her own behalf. A defendant in a criminal case has an absolute right to testify at his or her trial. The decision is the defendant’s alone and cannot be made on his or her behalf by a lawyer of anyone else.
With that understood, a defendant must take heed to a criminal lawyer’s advice when it comes to the issue of testifying during a trial. An experienced attorney is well aware of the pros and cons of a criminal defendant taking the stand in a trial.
In courts in Commonwealth nations, including Canada, nothing negative can be inferred against a defendant that choses not to testify in a criminal trial. This stems from a tradition that ultimately took root in justice systems in the majority of Western nations, including those that trace their history to the British Empire.
In the final analysis, a criminal lawyer may advise a client not to testify at trial. Oftentimes, the primary reason for the recommendation is the fact that if a defendant testifies, he or she is subject to thorough cross examination by the prosecutor. Oftentimes, cross examination of a defendant can have devastating consequences to a case, even to a case that previously was believed to be strongly favorable to the defendant.
Preparing to Testify
If the decision is made for a defendant to testify, he or she needs to engage in significant preparation with legal counsel. This process likely includes a defendant actually submitting to a mock cross examination. If a criminal case goes of the rails, it oftentimes is during the course of the cross examination of the defendant.
A Defendant is a Full Participant
A criminal defendant must be mindful during all aspects of a criminal trial. He or she must remain focused and able to provide counsel with information as needed. He or she must be able to provide information based on observations of other witnesses during trial proceedings.