As a Police Officer, you'll also have to attend court and testify. If you're not used to public speaking, you'll have to suck it up...

Anytime you make an arrest, or are involved in an arrest whether it be taking a statement or just assisting, you'll be required to attend court.

In some scenarios, your involvement may be so miniscule that the prosecutor and defense may not require you. In that case, you'll be free and clear.

If you arrested the suspect, or took a statement from the victim or a third party witness, you're likely to be summoned to attend.

Not every arrest ends up going to trial.

The accused attends court on the first day and is arraigned. That's when he pleads either guilty or not guilty.

If he pleads guilty, then the court will make arrangements for sentencing.

If he pleads not guilty, then a trial date is set sometime in the future, and it is on that date that you, as an Officer, will be required to attend court.

Now, if it's scheduled while you are on duty, then you just go in while you're working. If it's off duty, well you go anyways. You don't have an option.

Arrange looking after the kids with your wife/husband (if you have kids) and go. This is part of the job of being a Police Officer.

When you're up on the stand and testifying for the first time, you'll be nervous. It's not an everyday activity.

Close your eyes and imagine this scenario:

You're in a courtroom and you've taken the stand. You've sworn on a bible, and now you're seated at the front of the courtroom.

There's a microphone in front of you which is also taping everything you say, a stenographer who is typing away while you speak, and the prosecutor, defense, and judge are all staring straight at you.

It will be a little unnerving at first. But, you'll get used to it.

The initial evidence you give is called direct examination. (In Canada it's called the examination in chief)

That's where you'll give your testimony and the prosecutor will ask you some questions to highlight some points that they feel is important to the case.

That part will be pretty straight forward.

During the cross examination, that's where it can get amusing.

That's when the defense gets to ask you a bunch of questions to try and discredit you or try to minimize or trivialize your testimony.

Some defense attorneys will act like idiots. It's like they're trying to reenact episodes of LA Law. Others will be half decent.

The good lawyers always have a plan. They will be trying to get you to say something that they want.

They will try to lead you there by asking you certain questions, but they will have a list in their head which possible answers you can give.

Depending on the answer you give, they will go on to another question and again, the answer will lead them to another line of questioning.

They are slowly trying to maneouver you from point A to point B, and point B is their goal.

It will not always be easy to see where they are going with it, but just remember, your job is to give impartial and objective evidence, so don't try to anticipate the question. Just give your evidence.

Make sure that you listen closely to the question. Don't read into it.

Let's try something. I'm going to ask you a question. If there's nobody around, answer out loud.

Do you have the time?

I'm not saying that there is a correct answer here, but the mostappropriate answer to the question was either "yes" or "no". If you answered by giving the time, you didn't answer the question.

When you are testifying, take your time. When you are nervous your reaction may be to speed up, but you should do the opposite. Slow down. Really understand the question and think before you answer.

And don't lose your cool on the stand. It can be tough at times, cause some of the lawyers really act like goofs.

But losing your temper benefits the defense. It makes you look like an unprofessional Police Officer, and could hurt your credibility in court.

Return from Court to Homepage

Return to Being a Cop