Michigan Court Discusses a Criminal Defendant’s Right to Testify at Trial

Home invasion is a serious charge that can result in a lengthy jail sentence. Establishing guilt in a home invasion case requires the prosecution to show that the defendant entered another person’s home without permission. Thus, if the defendant can establish that he or she had consent prior to entering, the jury should issue a verdict of not guilty. In many instances, the only evidence of the defendant’s permission is his or her own account of events. Recently, a Michigan court discussed a defendant’s right to testify in a home invasion case, in a matter in which the defendant appealed his conviction. If you are accused of a home invasion or other criminal offenses, it is smart to speak to a Michigan criminal defense attorney about your options.

The Alleged Invasion

Allegedly, the defendant shared custody of his minor child with the victim. During a custody exchange, he confronted the victim about his belief that she was dating another man. She went back into her house, and he pursued her, yelling and asking for her phone. She had hidden her phone in her pants on other occasions, and therefore the defendant pulled down her pants to look for it. When he could not find the phone, he digitally penetrated her.

It is reported the defendant was charged with home invasion and criminal sexual conduct. During the trial, the victim testified that the defendant did not have permission to enter her home on the night of the incident. The jury convicted the defendant and he appealed, arguing in part that he was denied the right to testify for his defense.

A Defendant’s Right to Testify

The court explained that the Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution afford criminal defendants the right to testify in their own defense. Although counsel must advise defendants of their rights, the decision of whether to take the stand at trial ultimately rests with the defendant.

If a defendant opts not to testify or agrees with his attorney’s decision that he should not testify, the right to testify will be deemed waived. Further, a defendant must affirmatively claim the right to testify. In other words, if a defendant fails to state his wish to testify when he had a chance to do so, his silence is adequate proof of acquiescence to his attorney’s decision not to call him to the stand. In the subject case, the noted that at no time during the trial did the defendant express a desire to testify. Thus, the court found he waived his right to do so and affirmed the verdict.

Meet with an Experienced Michigan Criminal Defense Lawyer

Criminal defendants have the right to testify on their own behalf, but in many instances, it is prudent for them to refrain from offering testimony at trial. If you are accused of a crime, it is advisable to meet with an attorney to evaluate your potential defenses. Sam Bernstein of ArborYpsi Law is a Michigan criminal defense attorney with ample experience defending people charged with a variety of offenses, and if you hire him, he will advocate aggressively on your behalf. You can contact Mr. Bernstein via the form online or by calling (734) 883-9584 to set up a conference.


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