Huntsville Personal Injury Lawyer

Do You Have to Agree to a Deposition?

The thought of participating in a legal deposition can be incredibly intimidating. No matter the role you play in the case, a deposition can be stressful. Upon hearing of the deposition, you likely begin to think of ways that you could avoid participation. However, this may not be as easy as you might think.

So, do you have to agree to a deposition?  As a general rule, you must agree to participate in a deposition. Refusing a deposition can result in serious implications legally and financially. However, there are certain situations which may affect your need to participate in a deposition we’ll discuss those circumstances below.

Legal depositions do not have to be an intimidating process. In this post, we will share some basic information surrounding depositions. We will also discuss potential circumstances that may allow you to refuse or negotiate your participation in a deposition. It is important to note that this post is simply an overview. For further information regarding your special circumstances, it is important to contact your Personal Injury Lawyer in Huntsville.

What is a Deposition?

Huntsville Personal Injury LawyerA deposition is a legally binding interview in which a lawyer will ask you a series of questions. These questions help them to establish their case. The prosecuting lawyer will use this information on the day of the trial or during the settlement process.

Although the deposition does not take place in the courtroom, it is still a very formal meeting. Participants answer their questions under an oath. Because of this, it is important to take any information regarding a potential deposition very seriously.

Purpose of a Deposition

The purpose of any deposition is to gain additional information or insight surrounding a legal case. You may participate in a deposition for a case that directly involves you. However, you may also be called to participate in a deposition in which you are simply a witness to the case. In either circumstance, it is to your benefit to cooperate with the request and agree to the deposition. 

Refusing a Legal Deposition

There are very few circumstances that would enable you to legally refuse a deposition. You may also be able to negotiate the terms of the deposition. However, you may be required to participate even after you request to negotiate the terms or outright refuse the deposition.

Subpoena vs. Request

The most important distinction to make is whether you were subpoenaed to appear or if it was simply a request. When you receive a subpoena to give a deposition, you are being ordered by the court to participate.

In this circumstance, you have no choice but to oblige. Refusing to give a deposition following a subpoena will result in serious legal consequences. In addition to the consequences you will face, you will eventually be required to give you deposition. If a subpoena is involved, it is best to agree to the deposition immediately.

However, if you simply receive a request to give a deposition, you may have more options. A request is not accompanied by a court order. In any case, it is usually best to agree to a deposition, even before it is mandated by a court order. Refusing to participate could reflect poorly on you, and you may eventually suffer consequences from this decision.

Reasons to Refuse a Deposition

Although it is typically to your advantage to participate in a deposition, there are a few reasons when you can refuse to give your deposition, at least for a time.

If the deposition is scheduled to take place in a location that is geographically distant, you may be able to request that the location is moved to a more central spot. There are some states that have laws in place to ensure that the deposition is equally convenient for each party involved. Although this will not get you out of the deposition, it will allow you additional time to work with your legal counsel before the deposition date.

You will have more opportunities to negotiate or refuse the deposition if it was simply a request that you participate. If you did not receive a subpoena, it is likely that you are simply a witness to the case. Do you have important information surrounding the case? Are the individuals in question acquaintances of yours?

If you have little or no knowledge of the events surrounding the case and are requested to give a deposition as a witness, you may be able to refuse the deposition. You do so by informing the prosecuting lawyer that you have little knowledge or involvement with the circumstances that surround the case.

In some situations, they may release you from the deposition. However, it is possible that they will still require your attendance even if you have little information to provide.

Always Seek Legal Counsel

No matter the situation surrounding your deposition, it is wise to seek legal counsel. You should never respond to or make decisions about a deposition without first seeking the advice of a personal injury lawyer in Huntsville.

A lawyer will be able to provide you with additional insight into the potential implications of your decision. When making a decision on how to proceed, you should also consider what you have to gain or lose by participating in the deposition.

Risks of Refusing a Deposition

A deposition is a legally binding event. As such, there are serious risks to refusing to participate. This is especially true when the case involves a subpoena. Refusing to give a deposition could have legal or financial implications, oftentimes both. Additionally, refusing to give a deposition will never reflect well on your character. It can greatly impact the outcome of the case.

Do You Have to Answer Every Question During a Deposition?

Once you agree to the deposition, do you have to answer every question that the prosecuting lawyer asks? This is a topic that many people are nervous about as they approach the deposition. Since a deposition is legally binding, it is important that you answer each question truthfully. Failing to do so will result in legal implications.

Although you must answer each question truthfully, there are a few reasons why you do not have to answer questions throughout your deposition.

Types of Questions to Refuse

As a general rule, you can refuse to answer any question that does not seem relevant to the case at hand. You may also refuse to answer any question that reveals information that is personal or privileged. If the prosecuting lawyer is able to state why the question is relevant or necessary, you must provide an answer after all. 

Personal Information

A question that would reveal unnecessary personal information includes topics such as health, sex, religion, or other topics that are private or personal.

Privileged Information

Examples of questions that reveal privileged information include conversations that are legally confidential. Although confidentiality varies between states, this will likely include any information shared during a conversation with a priest, doctor, attorney, physiatrist, psychologist, and others.

Irrelevant Information

Some of the questions asked by the prosecuting lawyer may seem completely irrelevant. If you encounter a question that seems inappropriate or unnecessary, you have the right to ask for clarification on why your answer is beneficial to the case. The prosecuting lawyer will then have to share why they believe it is a necessary question. If they are not able to do so, you may legally refuse to answer the question.

You can learn more about preparing for a deposition here.

Benefits of Giving a Deposition

Although it may seem intimidating at first, giving a deposition can actually prove to be highly beneficial in your case. The questions that the prosecuting lawyer asks during a deposition help them as they establish their case. However, they also provide you with an opportunity to share information about the case from your point of view.

Additionally, in some situations, a legal videographer may record your deposition on video. This will sometimes be on display for members of the jury during the trial. In this situation, you are able to share information from your point of view with the individuals who will decide the outcome of the case.

No matter the reason for your deposition or the circumstances surrounding your case, is important to work with an experienced lawyer. They will be able to provide you with the most accurate advice on how to proceed throughout the deposition process. You can find more helpful deposition tips here.

Related Questions

What should I wear to my deposition? Although not held in a courtroom, a deposition is an important legal meeting. As such, it is important that you dress accordingly. Proper attire for a deposition includes professional business attire. One should always avoid flashy garments or accessories that could draw excessive attention or warrant unwanted assumptions. 

Just as important as your attire, it is also crucial to maintain a professional attitude and demeanor. This includes proper posture and a calm demeanor throughout the duration of your deposition. You can learn more about what to wear to your deposition here.

Thank you for reading Deposition Academy! 

Matt McWilliams

Deposition Academy is an online website created to guide those in the legal videographer industry or those interested in starting a legal videography business. The site has expanded to cover a variety of legal topics that are related to depositions and the deposition process. Our team of writers have written for a variety of legal blogs and website.