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What should I avoid doing when under oath?

There is a well-worn saying in legal circles that certainly bears repeating which goes, "A man who is his own attorney has a fool for a client." And this is not simply casting aspersions on those who lack law licenses; experienced attorneys know to have someone else act as their representative in court as well.

There are many important things that attorneys understand that non-lawyers are often unaware of. And this is why if you should ever be the defendant in a court trial, it is extremely beneficial to have experienced legal counsel on your side. But still, there are a few things that every defendant should know before appearing in court, with or without an attorney:

  • Always tell the truth while under oath. Lying on the stand can lead to charges of perjury. If you have an attorney, speak to him or her prior to answering any questions that you are uncomfortable with.
  • Come prepared. Before you set foot in a courtroom, make sure you are clear on everything from your court date to what sort of documents or forms you should have at the ready. Judges do not want to hear excuses, and you could even be issued a bench warrant for failing to obey the court's orders.
  • Control your temper. Yelling or cursing at a judge is a very bad move and could result in a contempt of court charge along with a visit to jail.
  • Do not blurt out a spontaneous confession. Even though judges will typically attempt to ignore such pleas, all of your statements in court will be recorded and could later be used against you. You have the right not to incriminate yourself, a right you should always exercise.

If you have been charged with a crime, the safest way to ensure that you do not make a critical mistake in court is to appear with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney. An attorney can guide you through your trial and help ensure that you do not forfeit any of your rights.

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