Tips for Testifying in Court

witness-testimonyOf all the moments that people look forward to in their life, their court date is certainly not one of them. Like it or not, you're going to have to stand before the judge and deal with whatever problem is in front of you. Knowing how to make the best of a crummy situation is the key to getting through your court appearance as smoothly as possible.

Top Tips for Testifying

1. Always dress the part. Showing up to court in everyday clothing isn't going to help you out, because it'll seem like you're not taking the court very seriously. Wear a conservative outfit in navy blue or black and keep accessories to a minimum.

2. Like your mama told you, mind your manners. Appearing professional goes beyond picking out the right outfit. Stand up straight, pay attention to whoever's speaking and be respectful by only talking when asked to.

3. Listen carefully to the questions that you're asked. If you're unsure of what you're being asked, don't answer. Instead, ask for clarification or for the question to be reworded.

4. If there's a jury in the courtroom, address them when asked a question by an attorney or the judge. Don't look to your lawyer, which can be interpreted as seeking help. Make eye contact with the jurors and always answer questions verbally instead of with body language. For example, don't just nod your head when asked a yes-or-no question; instead, clearly say, "Yes."

5. Keep your hands calmly in your lap. Fussing with your face, hair or clothing will make you appear nervous and under confident.

6. If you need to address the judge, look at him and say, "Your Honor." Don't continue speaking until given permission.

Should I Represent Myself In Court?

This question is growing in popularity, probably due to a flailing economy and the notoriously high fees that most lawyers charge. The short answer to the question, though, is, "probably not." Unless you're going into small claims court, the system isn't set up for you to represent yourself effectively. People who choose self representation don’t always know how to properly prepare and file their court documents; discuss the laws that play a role in the case; or object in the right way.

You've Missed Your Court Date… Now What?

Unless your attorney managed to work out something with the judge, odds are that there's now a warrant out for your arrest. Should you get stopped by the police-for any reason-they'll see your outstanding warrant and arrest you. Scary, we know.

Assuming you missed your court date purely by accident or due to extenuating circumstances, don't wait until it's too late to contact the court. The minute you know you're going to miss your court date, or as soon as possible after the missed court date, face the music and contact the court. Ask if there's a bench warrant for you, and if so, what you need to do moving forward. Also ask to have the court date rescheduled…and make sure to show up.

Jason Garrison is a professional blogger that provides information on the best law firms, legal advice in Atlanta GA and attorney in Atlanta GA. He write for The Ballard Law Group, a top law firm in Atlanta GA.

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