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What Not to Do during a Deposition

Depositions are crucial parts of litigation and can often change the course of a case. If you’ve been summoned for a statement, here are some of the things you must remember NOT to do.

Depositions are vital components of litigation, often serving as pivotal points of a case. When you are summoned for a testimony, everything you say will be taken under oath. Now, this is nerve-wracking as it is. But if you know what to do (and more importantly, what not to do), you can make a good and strong deposition.

When you receive a summon, here are the things you should NOT do:

1. Panic

Giving a deposition can be a scary and intimidating experience. But whether you are going to do the testimony with a video court reporter on in person at the lawyer’s office, the last thing you want to do is panic. When you receive the summon, keep yourself calm (which, we know, is easier said than done) and contact your lawyer to find out what you need to do to prepare.

2. Lie

Lying in a deposition is perhaps the worst thing you can do, so don’t even think about trying it, no matter how small the lie might seem. Lying can put you in legal trouble and cause unnecessary delays to the case.

3. Come unprepared

To give a good deposition, you need to do some preparation. Start by reviewing your version of the story as well as relevant documents, such as medical records and any receipts that you might have. Work with your lawyer to determine how you are going to tell your story and what you need to do to make a good impression. Aside from helping you stay calm during the deposition, enough preparation will help you establish your credibility as a witness.

4. Volunteer information

Only answer the questions that you are asked. Do not volunteer any other information besides that. A deposition can be drawn out, awkward, and annoying, but don’t try and fill the silence by volunteering unnecessary information.

5. Guess

If you are asked a question that you don’t know or can’t remember the answer to, don’t try to guess or make up an answer in the heat of the moment. Instead, say, “I don’t know” or “I can’t remember.” Alternatively, you can give an estimate if you are asked about something specific, such as a date, time, or speed, but make it clear that you are approximating. And if you don’t understand the question, ask the person to clarify.

6. Let your emotions take over

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The opposing attorney can try and get a rise out of you, but don’t fall for it. Stay calm and collected throughout the deposition. If you lose your temper and say things out of anger, you can face the consequences of it.

7. Strike up casual conversations

This can be your way of easing your anxiety, but engaging in casual conversations with other people present during the deposition is not a good idea, even if you’re “off the record.” Mind your own business and only speak with your lawyer.

Knowing what to do during a deposition is just as important as knowing what not to do. By avoiding these common deposition mistakes, you can adequately establish your credibility, make a good impression, and give a strong testimony.

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