Tips for Appearing as a Witness
You may be called to court as a witness for all kinds of reasons: to testify in divorce court, give a character evaluation, as an expert witness who needs to give a technical testimony, to relay the events of an automobile accident that you witnessed, share your side of the story in a criminal or civil case, and more. But despite all of the variables that impact your reason for being called to court, there are some general rules for how you should behave and how you need to present yourself in front of the judge, jury and lawyers. Keep reading for tips on how to appear as a witness in court.
- Be well groomed. Make sure that your hair is clean and brushed, your clothes aren’t wrinkled, your shoes are tied, and that your make-up is simple and appropriate. Avoid any offensive presentation, including bad smells or heavy perfume, garish, over-the-top makeup and hairstyles, or loud, distracting jewelry. Hide tattoos under clothing if possible.
- Dress professionally and conservatively. Dressing for court shouldn’t seem romantic or casual. Wear a suit or conservative dress in a basic color that’s flattering but doesn’t stand out too much. Avoid fire engine red, hot pink, and other neon or super bright colors that are distracting. You want the judge and jury to take your testimony seriously, and if you dress conservatively and professionally, you will present yourself as a witness who understands the gravity of the case.
- Know the rules of the court. Make sure to stand when the judge enters the room and how you are to be sworn in. You should also research any legal terms that are relevant to your case so that you understand what the judge and lawyers ask you.
- Speak up and speak clearly. Speak into the microphone and practice good diction so that everyone in the courtroom easily understands your testimony. Good articulation also makes you sound smarter and more authoritative.
- Be confident. Practice your testimony ahead of time so that you aren’t easily bungled by any distractions or unexpected questions. Confidence also makes it easier for a jury, judge and lawyers to understand your story and trust you.
Tell the truth. Always tell the truth when you’re on the stand. Perjury could result in jail time.
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