A deposition can be a stressful experience, especially if you are unsure what to expect from them. You will be asked questions and be required to give truthful answers, but if you have been called for a deposition, you are probably wondering what your rights are in the situation.
The rules might differ slightly across the different states in the US, but the general rules apply in all of them. The legality of a deposition is undebatable, and you will need to follow the rules.
In this article, we will explain everything that you would need to know about giving a deposition, and we will also explain your rights and what you can expect from the experience.
Ultimately, you will be asked to give a deposition if you are directly linked to the case, so the information that you provide is really important in helping to prepare the case.
What is a deposition?
In the United States, a deposition will involve the taking of sworn oral testimony under oath, and a deposition doesn’t usually take place in a court of law. An individual that has been asked to give a deposition will be asked questions by an attorney, and they will be required to answer truthfully.
Their answers are usually recorded or transcribed to be used later in court or as evidence.
Essentially, it is a method of discovery so that attorneys can use the information that they discover to help prepare the case that they are building. A deposition can often lead to new information that has not been discovered previously, and it can also lead to new investigations and evidence.
They are commonly used in the United States and are conducted by the lawyers themselves, with no judge present for supervision. It is not uncommon to find out beneficial information through a deposition that can either help the defense’s case or poke holes in the prosecution’s case.
How long does a deposition take?
The majority of depositions that take place will be finished within around two hours, depending on how the deposition progresses. They can take less time than this, but they can also even take a few days for more complex cases that require more information.
The process can also take much longer if the deponent is not cooperating well enough to provide sufficient answers. It will also depend on the number of questions that are being asked and how long the deponent takes to answer.
Can I refuse to give a deposition?
This will depend on whether or not you were subpoenaed. If you were subpoenaed to a deposition, then you cannot refuse to give a deposition, and if you were to do so, you would be found in contempt of court, which can have some serious negative consequences.
You will also be forced to give the deposition regardless as a subpoena is not a request; it is a required demand. However, there are some things that you are entitled to that you could argue your case with.
If the deposition is behind held a long distance away from you, this could be considered an unreasonable request. You can argue that it should be held closer to you to make attendance more realistic.
Certain states actually have laws that state that the deposition should be held within a reasonable distance to your residence, and so you can argue that it be brought closer to you.
Another law that is dependent on certain states is that you could argue that you are not a direct party to the situation. Some states do not allow any person that is not a direct party to provide any testimony. If this is the law in your state, and you are not a direct party, then you can argue that you don’t have to attend.
However, before you make any decisions about refusing to give a deposition, you should contact a lawyer for advice first. You don’t want to get yourself into any trouble by refusing to attend, and a lawyer will be familiar with the necessary laws. They will be able to tell you what to do in such a situation and argue your case for you.
If you were not subpoenaed, then you might not have to attend. However, it can reflect negatively upon you if you decide not to give deposition when asked to. Again, you should contact a lawyer before making any decisions to avoid getting in trouble with the law.
It is difficult to say what would happen if you were to refuse to give a deposition, and it is probably better to attend.
Can I refuse to answer questions at a deposition?
Most of the time, a deponent cannot and should not refuse to answer any question that is asked of them during a deposition. However, there are rules surrounding the types of questions that you can be asked, and if these rules are broken, you do not have to answer the posed question.
This means that there are certain types of questions that you do not have to answer, but you can choose to if you want to.
Throughout your deposition, you should always have your attorney present during any matter of legal questioning. They should prepare you before the deposition proceeds about what questions that you might be asked and what questions you shouldn’t answer.
If you are unsure throughout the deposition, your attorney will advise you on how to answer or if you don’t have to answer.
The questions that you do not have to answer will usually fall into three different categories that include privileged information, private information, and irrelevant information.
Privileged information includes any confidential conversations that take place between a doctor and a patient, information discussed between an attorney and their client, and any confessions that have been made to a priest.
What is considered to be privileged information can vary between states, so make sure that you know the law before the deposition Your attorney can advise you here.
Private information is any information that pertains to an individual’s health, sexuality, or religious beliefs.
Irrelevant information involves questions that are either improper or have no bearing on the outcome of a proceeding. Either you or your attorney can object to these questions.
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