Legal terminology can be confusing, which is why many people have questions like “What is a deposition in law?” A deposition, in its simplest definition, is sworn out-of-court testimony. While this may sound basic enough, there is more involved in the process than you might think.
What Is a Deposition in Law and What Is It Used For?
A deposition is part of the evidence and information-gathering process pretrial. The sworn testimony given during a deposition is usually inadmissible as evidence, but deponents — persons being deposed — often bring an attorney to protect their interests.
How Many People Are Present During a Deposition?
There are usually only a few people present during the process: the deponent, attorneys, and an administrator qualified to administer necessary oaths. The process does not involve the court directly, so judges and juries are never present.
Why Is a Deposition Recorded?
To ensure testimony does not waver between the deposition and the trial, the proceeding is usually recorded by a stenographer, digital camera, or voice recorder. While recordings are usually inadmissible, they are relevant, primarily under three conditions:
- If a party admits to something against their interests
- If witness testimony at trial contradicts their deposition
- If a witness is unavailable at trial
What Is the Deposition Process?
When considering what is a deposition in law, it helps to understand the process. During the deposition, all parties can ask the deponent questions. While a witness can object to the questions and refuse to answer, a judge may later overturn the objection and compel an answer.
Having your attorney present during depositions is essential. Attorneys are present to protect you, and they know when questions are biased or unlawful. During personal injury claim depositions, a lawyer can ensure you don’t inadvertently implicate yourself or wrongfully take responsibility. That said, the process limits their power to object and coach their clients, which is why your attorney will probably coach you before the deposition.
Not all depositions allow in-person questioning; some only allow written questions submitted before the event. At such a deposition, the deponent or witness will answer each submitted question, and only the written questions are permitted.
Written question depositions are more cost-effective because lawyers need not attend. They also tend to be quick because they do not allow for additional questions.
How Do You Prepare for a Deposition?
What is a deposition in law if not stressful? When preparing for a deposition, you might feel anxious and worried; these are natural feelings, but you should try to stay as calm as possible. When attending the deposition there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Be prepared
- Never volunteer information
- Tell the truth
- Understand the question
- Never guess
Also, if you don’t remember something, don’t be afraid to say so. The human memory is faulty, and it is better to say “I don’t recall” than make something up.
Still Unsure of What Is a Deposition in Law? Talk to an Attorney
Do you have more questions beyond the basics of what is a deposition in law? If you would like to know more or need help preparing for a deposition, contact MDK Law Group for a free consultation.