What You Should Know About Depositions, Part 1
When you are involved in a lawsuit, you may be stressed out simply because you don’t know what to expect. One of the elements of your lawsuit may be a deposition. In an effort to ease your mind, we have created a two-part series explaining depositions. When you know what to expect, you are better able to focus your attention on what matters.
1. What is a Deposition?
When a lawsuit is filed, the discovery process begins. This is where attorneys attempt to find evidence that will assist their side in the lawsuit. Part of the discovery process is the deposition.
During a deposition, a witness is asked questions outside of a courtroom. The deposition may take place in an attorney’s office or even the witness’s home. The testimony is recorded by a certified stenographer of the court. Attorneys are attempting to find out, or “discover,” what the witness knows. Any person that an attorney believes has information about the case may be deposed, with certain exceptions.
2. How Can You Prepare?
Depositions can be exhausting. You will be forced to concentrate for an extended period of time in order to answer questions accurately and truthfully. It is recommended that you do not drink alcohol or take drugs prior to the deposition. You should get a good night’s rest and eat a decent meal before you begin questioning.
Other than these things, there is little you can do on your own to prepare. If there is something your attorney wants you to do prior to being deposed, they will let you know. If you have any questions about your appearance for the deposition, speak with your lawyer. Generally, business casual dress is recommended.
3. Does Your Behavior Matter?
While a deposition is less formal than appearing in court, you should attempt to conduct yourself as if you were in front of a judge. Make every effort to remain calm while you are answering questions, and confine your answers to the questions being asked. The opposing attorney will have a chance to ask you questions and may attempt to make you emotional. No matter what you are being asked, remain poised. Your case will not benefit if you become angry or confrontational.
4. Are Your Sworn In?
Even though you are not officially in court, you will be sworn in as if you are. This means that if you lie, you may be charged with perjury. Listen to the questions you are being asked very carefully and if you don’t understand, ask for clarification before you answer.
5. Can Your Attorney Object?
It is typically recommended that you pause before answering any questions by the opposing attorney. This is because your attorney may object to what is being asked or how it is phrased. An objection during a deposition is a bit different than one in court. While your attorney may object, you will still answer the question unless your lawyer tells you not to. The objection is recorded by the stenographer, and the question asked may later be ruled inadmissible as evidence.
Coming up will be our second part in our series on depositions. In the meantime, if you have been charged with DUI or another offense in Atlanta, reach out to our team of criminal defense attorneys for assistance. Your first consultation will be held at no cost to you.