Are you worried about saying the wrong thing and getting into trouble during a deposition?
Have you had trouble finding the confidence you need after Googling: “How to give a deposition?”
It is natural to feel anxious about this upcoming event. After all, even the slightest inconsistency can be scrutinized by opposing counsel. However, you can get through it unscathed by following a few simple but critical tips. After you read our guide today, you will have the knowledge you need and a connection to an attorney who will guide you through the process.
What Is a Deposition?
A deposition is a sworn testimony given outside of a courtroom. Typically, they occur during the discovery phase of a lawsuit. As a result, they can become critical elements of the case for either side of a civil dispute during a trial.
But, it is easy to overcomplicate the process in your mind. High-profile lawsuits often rely on these events and make novices feel like they are about to walk into a field of legal landmines.
Can I Refuse to Give a Deposition?
Technically, you may get away with refusing to participate in a deposition. But in practicality, it can be a terrible decision that brings heavy consequences. A few of the risks you take by ignoring this written order are:
- Jail time
- Contempt of court charges
- Paying for expenses incurred by your failure to appear
What Is The Purpose of a Deposition?
There are several legal reasons to conduct a deposition before a trial begins. For starters, it can be more practical to get people with busy lives to give testimony this way. Experts in their field cannot always make themselves available to the court system on the day the court is in session. But, the most relevant concerns to most deposed individuals or parties to a lawsuit include:
- Authenticating the validity of documented evidence
- Gathering previously unknown information
- Demonstrating legal theories and themes legal counsel want to present
- Establishing testimony for the trial
- Obtaining admissions of critical facts to the case
- Evaluating the credibility of a witness
What Happens During a Deposition?
Now that you understand the basics, the natural question to ask next might be: “How does a deposition work?”
This legal process is a question-and-answer session with the most relevant parties involved. Since this is an official court function, attorneys and a court reporter will be present. It is also likely that there will be a witness or two. It would be highly unusual for a judge to be there, but legal counsel can contact them during the deposition process.
First, the deponent swears the same oath they would in court. They may also have to assure everyone that they have not used drugs or alcohol recently. A participant in the deposition will outline the rules of the event before the questions start.
Once things begin in earnest, attorneys for both parties will get to ask a few rounds of inquiries. There may be objections, but there is a general expectation that they should be limited. You will likely spend more time conferring with legal counsel about your answers.
When the deposition finishes, copies of the transcript will go out to the attorneys. Weeks or months of pouring over its contents will likely affect how the defense, plaintiff, or prosecution approach the trial. If particularly damning information exists, that can provide extra pressure to reach a settlement or plea deal.
How Do You Give a Deposition?
Each case has its intricacies to consider as part of your strategy. This fact makes consulting with an attorney before attending the deposition essential. However, there are general rules that anyone will want to follow.
Prepare With Your Attorney
You do not want to go to a conference room of attorneys without preparation. The legal experts on either side have clear goals for what they want to hear. If you do not have a game plan, you can find yourself walking into traps that will hurt your case. Even worse, they may insinuate that you broke the rules and are in legal jeopardy. As a result, you need to have expertise and experience on your side to protect yourself and your rights.
Carefully Consider Your Answers Before Giving Them
Once you get into the flow, you may not pay as much attention to the fact that every word will be in the transcript. You don’t want to provide vague or potentially damaging statements that an attorney can twist into a different meaning.
Even more importantly, you need to provide consistent testimony. When you feel overwhelmed, take a few deep breaths and think about what you want to say. Nobody receives points or kudos for getting through a deposition quickly.
Confer With Your Attorney During the Deposition
If you have any doubts about what to say, do not hesitate to consult your attorney. It doesn’t matter how many times you have to take this step. Nobody can fault you for doing so if you are not trying to delay or obstruct proceedings.
Remember That You Can Ask to Have the Record Read Back to You
It is natural to want to get through the deposition as efficiently as possible. However, when unsure how to respond, you can ask the court reporter to read something back. Making this request will allow you to think carefully about what aligns with your previous statements.
For example, assume that you are in a situation where the timing of events is critical. During a moment of nervous tension, you could misspeak and insinuate that you did not give an honest answer. At least, it will look like you are unreliable. It is in your best interests and others to circle back and ensure your answer fits within the picture you already painted.
Tell the Truth
In the words of Mark Twain, “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” Whether lawyers figure out your lie in the room or at a later date, dishonesty can cause a cascade of negative consequences.
Moreover, you do not want to get caught in a lie and bring criminal charges against yourself. You cannot hope to outwit a room of people trained to leap on inconsistencies.
Giving a deposition is stressful for anyone. Every word that you say is under scrutiny and could have a profound effect on the court case. Even worse, the perception of being dishonest or misleading could land you in hot legal water.
Despite the challenges, you have resources at your disposal during each stage. You have access to legal help before, during, and after the deposition. Furthermore, you will have every opportunity to prepare and handle any surprises.
Work With an Experienced Local Attorney
Now that you understand more about how to give a deposition, are you ready to seek out legal guidance?
If you have paid attention to the content of this article, you understand how vital it is to work with a local attorney. We can also get you in touch with lawyers across state lines when necessary. Submit a request for a consultation through our website or call (866) 345-6784 today!