Preparing A Defendant To Testify In A Self-Defense Case: 4 Things That Must Happen

In every trial a criminal attorney must decide if he or she will call he defendant to testify. If the criminal attorney is presenting a self-defense case then it is almost always necessary to call the defendant to the stand. In order to have self defense language in the courts charge and considered by the jury there must have been some evidence of self defense testimony. Under Texas self defense law that testimony usually has to come from the defendant. To win a Texas self-defense case the defendant has to be prepared to testify effectively.

1. Explain the Law of Self-Defense. The defendant needs to have the law of self-defense carefully explained to him on more than one occasion. The defendant needs to know what is required under the law so that he can better explain his story to the jury.

2. Meet Often With The Client. To properly prepare a client for testifying in a self-defense case requires many meetings. You can’t just throw your client up on the stand after one meeting. The lawyer must study the client’s personality. Then she will know how to question the client. How much direction the client will need on the stand.

3. Develop Best Way To Communicate The Defendant’s Fear. Under Texas Self-defense law the jury must decide if the Defendant used force because he thought it was immediately necessary to defend himself from unlawful force. The most critical part of the defendant’s story is conveying the defendant’s fear and why he had to act. The prosecutor will try to attack this part of the defendant’s story in order argue to the jury that the defendant had other choices and did not have to use force.

4. Prepare the Defendant for Cross-examination. The prosecutor will come at the defendant hard  the issue of self defense. The client must be prepared for the cross-examination. It can be very effective to use another lawyer to demonstrate to the client how a prosecutor will cross-examine.


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