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What Is a Witness Stand?

In a courtroom, testimony is typically provided while a person is on the witness stand.
Testimony from witnesses is one type of evidence that is used in many court cases.
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  • Written By: Alexis W.
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 20 November 2014
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A witness stand is the location in the court room where witnesses sit or stand to give testimony. In many jurisdictions, the stand is to the left of the judge's position in the front of the court room, although this position can vary depending on the country or even the size of the courtroom in some cases. The witness stand is usually located in the front of the court room so that the judge and jury, if present, can see and hear the witnesses as they give testimony.

In a court case, many different types of evidence are presented. The selection of evidence varies depending on the type of case in the court, and the specific issue being prosecuted. For example, in a criminal case, the various forms of evidence are all designed to demonstrate that the defendant committed a crime.

Testimony from witnesses is one type of evidence that is used in many court cases. Witness testimony can be used in both civil and criminal cases. This means witness testimony can be used when a prosecutor prosecutes a crime, or when one individual sues another.

When a witness gives testimony, he or she generally gives a deposition to the attorneys in the case prior to taking the witness stand. This deposition both enables the attorneys to frame their cases, and serves as a check to ensure that the witness's story does not change, and that his or her depiction of the facts is accurate.

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After a witness gives a deposition, the attorneys can determine whether or not to call that witness at a trial. If the witness is going to be called at trial, his or her name is put on a witness list that is submitted to the court by the relevant attorney. For the most part, a witness cannot be called unless he or she is on the witness list, although there are some exceptions to this rule if a witness is uncovered late in the trial.

When a witness is called, in most jurisdictions, the witness must appear in court; in the US, the Constitution entitles a person the right to question someone who is testifying against them. When the witness appears in court, he or she is sworn in and then takes a seat in the witness stand.

The attorneys direct and address questions to the witness while the witness is sitting in the witness stand. The judge or jury observes the witnesses response, issued from the witness stand, to determine if they believe the witness or if they feel the witness is credible.

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