In your DUI trial, the state will present its case by gathering witnesses to testify against you, such as the arresting officer or people present at the scene. After we cross-examine these witnesses, you have the ability to testify on your own behalf—but you also have the right not to give evidence against yourself. So should you testify?
Benefits and Risks of Testifying at Your Own DUI Trial
Under state and federal law, no prosecutor, judge, or attorney can force you to take the witness stand. Just as you have the right to remain silent on your arrest, the Fifth Amendment gives you the right to stay silent throughout your case, even during the trial. If you choose not to testify at trial, the jury is not allowed to consider your choice not to give testimony when determining their verdict. That is, they cannot presume you are guilty just because you didn’t want to take the witness stand.
Some pros and cons of asserting your Fifth Amendment rights include:
- It’s all or nothing. Once you have taken the stand, you cannot pick and choose which questions you will answer. If you testify, your right to remain silent has been waived, and you will have to answer the prosecutor’s questions as well as the ones prepared by your attorney.
- It doesn’t apply to evidence. The Fifth Amendment only applies to testimonial evidence, such as the things you say or write. It cannot be used to prevent you from giving physical evidence such as breathalyzers, blood, or urine samples, nor prevent this evidence from being used in your trial.
- It leaves your future in the hands of your attorney. The decision on whether or not you should testify on your own behalf is a strategic one, and it should only be made with the inout of an by an experienced DUI defense attorney. Your lawyer will examine the individual facts of your case, your credibility as a witness, and whether the benefits outweigh the risks.
Are you or someone you know facing DUI / OVI charges?
If you are facing DUI charges, you need to speak with an experienced DUI attorney as soon as possible. The Law Offices of Steven R. Adams is recognized by Super Lawyers, Best Lawyers, The Best Lawyers in America, National Trial Lawyers Top 100, and is one of U.S. News' Best Law Firms. Please contact us online or call our Cincinnati office directly at 513-929-9333 to schedule your free consultation.