Opening Statement Tips

New York criminal lawyer Gavel on Open Legal Books

By the time that your New York criminal lawyer finishes his or her opening statement, some jurors may have made up their minds about the case. The defense attorney’s opening statement follows immediately after the prosecution’s statement. The following methods may help make the opening statement of your New York criminal lawyer to be more effective.

Tell a Story

The opening statement is the perfect opportunity for your New York criminal attorney to give your side of the story. For example, if your attorney wants to emphasize reasonable doubt, he or she may challenge the prosecution’s evidence.

Give a Theme

Your attorney may begin to mention the theme of your case at this stage. This theme usually consists of a concise statement or catch-phrase.

Avoid Concessions

Your New York criminal lawyer will avoid making any concessions at this stage of the trial. If there are indisputable issues in the case, making a concession of this nature may help the jurors believe that your lawyer is reasonable and someone whom they can trust. However, many trials take an unprecedented turn. Therefore, defense lawyers may be better off by focusing on points that they will challenge and avoid any concessions.

Be Concise

Too many lawyers have the bad habit of continuing with an opening statement well after the time needed to make it effective. An experienced attorney should be able to make an opening statement without referencing any notes. Your attorney should display confidence, provide the defense theory and introduce the theme of the case. Being able to look jurors in the eyes rather than down at a pad of notes can help the criminal defense lawyer connect and communicate with jurors.

Make the Defendant Human

Lawyers with experience will refer to their client by name and not by title, such as “defendant.” Additionally, attorneys may mention the defendant’s background or family obligations in order to make the jury be more sympathetic to the defendant. The attorney may mention the defendant’s family, the fact that he has been employed for a long time with an employer or the fact that he has no prior arrests.

End Positively 

Your attorney should end the opening statement on a high note. For example, he or she may suggest that the prosecution’s evidence will not prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt and the only just result is to return a verdict of “not guilty.”

For more tips on opening statements, contact Frederick L. Sosinsky by calling (212) 285-2270.