A DUI is considered a “victimless” crime in Arizona; thus, a defendant can be prosecuted even if no one was injured prior to the arrest. However, if you were injured in an accident involving a driver who was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you may be called on for testifying in the courtroom against the driver who hit you.
It’s normal to feel nervous in such a situation. Just remember that you’re not on trial. And if you don’t speak up, the person who hurt you could go unpunished—and perhaps even harm someone else. The bravery that you show by testifying will help your peace of mind in the long run.
For many people, the thought of testifying in a courtroom is a scary one. People don’t know what to say, how to act, or how to get across what they’re feeling. For most of our clients who go through this process, it is a completely new experience. The important thing to remember is that as your attorneys, we will be with you every step of the way to guide you.
Your testimony must be your own, so we can’t tell you what to say (that’s illegal). However, we can tell you the best way to get your point across and tell you HOW to say what you want to say in a way that will help you get the best settlement possible.
The injury attorneys at Thompson Law Firm in Phoenix have significant experience in helping clients who have been in a DUI accident, including coaching people who need help testifying. Our offices are conveniently located in Chandler, Peoria, and North Phoenix, and we can meet in-person or over the phone or video call. You can contact us for a free consultation, or read on to find out more.
By the way, we will also help with other problems that have cost you sleep, like getting a rental car very soon and finding a nearby doctor or psychiatrist who can help get your life back on track. Even the best legal team isn’t good enough if your quality of life isn’t sustainable while justice and compensation are on the way. The whole point of legal action is to regain quality of life, so we help you long-term as attorneys and short-term as your go-to people.
If you are unsure whether or not you can afford an attorney, don’t worry. We only get paid when you settle. Check out our Attorney Fees Calculator to find out more.
These tips are guidelines for you to follow to help the courtroom take your testimony seriously. As a witness, and the person the defendant harmed, your testimony is important to the case. Failure to follow these guidelines could result in a settlement that isn’t as large as you had hoped, or in some cases having the case thrown out. These tips will help you give your testimony in the best way possible, and will likely help ease your nerves so you know what to expect in the courtroom.
- Your behavior outside of the courtroom is as important as your conduct inside the courtroom. Do not discuss your case in the restroom or hallways.
- Do not speak to the judge or jurors during the duration of your case. They must remain unbiased in the case.
- You may have emotional responses throughout different aspects of the case and the hearings. This includes when the defendant states “not guilty,” testimony is given, and during sentencing. You may hear things that cause you to have a number of emotions you may not have anticipated.
- If you are concerned about not being able to manage your emotions at any time throughout the trial, it is appropriate to leave the courtroom. You want to avoid influencing the judge or jury.
- If you have questions at any time during the trial, write them down in a notebook or this workbook. Share them with the prosecutor or victim advocate at an appropriate time. Do not whisper during the trial.
Testifying in a Criminal Trial
If you are asked to give testimony, be sure to follow these guidelines:
- Be honest in your responses.
- Dress appropriately. For most cases, business attire works well.
- Do not chew gum.
- Speak loudly and clearly so that you can be heard correctly.
- Stop speaking when an attorney objects or if the judge interrupts you.
- Only discuss your testimony with the attorney. Do not talk about the trial in front of the judge, jurors, or other witnesses.
- If the defense attorney asks if you have discussed your testimony with your attorney, it is appropriate to answer in the affirmative. While you may have received guidance from your attorney, you are answering questions to the best of your ability and truthfully.
- If you are asked a question that you do not understand, ask for clarification. If you feel that the attorney is manipulating your answers or steering the conversation in a specific direction, ask the judge for the opportunity to clarify your responses.
- If a question is asked that you don’t know the answer to, you can reply “I don’t know”, or “I don’t remember”.
Sharing Your Testimony in the Courtroom
- Dress conservatively and be respectful. You are there to share your testimony, not be a fashion statement.
- It is okay to use notes during your testimony if you need them. Remember that the judge or attorneys may be allowed to view your notes if you use them.
- Be descriptive as you relay the emotional, financial, physical, and mental effects of the incident. You want to give a clear picture of what happened and how it has affected you.
- Avoid using negative statements toward the defendant. Stick to your story and how the incident has had an impact on you personally. This includes insults and accusations.
- Maintain eye contact with the attorney who is asking questions. If you are directed to explain something to the judge or jury, look to them directly.
Get Help Now
At the Thompson Law Firm, we have more than 10 years of experience helping clients obtain compensation for their DUI accidents, including those who need to testify in a courtroom. When you’re ready to talk, please contact our office to arrange a free initial consultation by phone or at our Chandler office.
If you have been in a DUI car accident, contact Thompson Law Firm in Chandler, AZ to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney. We provide personal injury legal services to clients in the greater Phoenix area including Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, Tempe, and Peoria.