It is a word that many of us who watch law dramas hear about but it is something few of us ever imagine giving in person. A deposition is a very serious legal proceeding that requires a person to speak under oath to lawyers representing both sides of a civil lawsuit. If you lie and are caught, you can face serious legal repercussions so it is important to know exactly what you are getting yourself into before you sit down in the court room. Let’s take a look at what a deposition is and how the whole procedure works.
When you are asked to give a deposition, you will appear in a courtroom with a court reporter and lawyers representing both sides of the case. The only thing that will essentially be missing will be a judge and a jury; other than that, it will feel just like testifying in court. Both lawyers will question you, and your testimony will be recorded and used at the trial. There are a few different reasons why you may be asked to give a deposition.
The first is that both lawyers are collecting evidence for an upcoming trial. What you say on your deposition can be used during the trial, read out loud so that the jury can hear it and is considered just as serious and legally binding as if you were testifying during the trial itself. A deposition is also used for what is known as discovery. Discovery is the period before the trial where the lawyers try to collect information, follow leads and discover evidence, almost like a police officer investigating the case. Your deposition can also be used to impeach another witness if your testimonies clash – that’s why it is so important to always tell the truth in your deposition. Finally, a deposition can almost be practice to see how you would look/react/sound in front of a real jury. Even if you give a deposition, you may be called back to testify at a trial.
You have the right to read the deposition that is written by the court reporter and sign it saying that what is there is correct. No matter what anyone tells you, you do not have to waive this right if you don’t want to.
Let’s take a look at a few helpful tips that can help calm your nerves during this sometimes uncomfortable experience. First off, it is always a good idea to be honest. Some people come to a deposition with the intention of protecting a friend or exaggerating what they saw, but having to remember a web of lies is difficult, and you can commit perjury without even knowing it and that can lead to jail time. If you have your own lawyer, listen to them, otherwise answer every question that is asked of you to the fullest of your ability. Finally, if someone asks you a question and you don’t fully understand, it is extremely important to ask so that you don’t give an untrue answer at any point, even if it is by accident.