What Is the Purpose of Swearing in a Witness?


Quick Answer

The purpose of swearing in a witness during a legal proceeding is to ensure the witness is telling the truth to the best of his ability. Statements made by witnesses while under oath are presumed to be truthful, and verdicts rendered by judges and juries often rely on witness testimony. If a witness knowingly lies while testifying under oath, the witness risks being charged with the crime of perjury.

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What Is the Purpose of Swearing in a Witness?
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Full Answer

After a witness has sworn to tell the truth, he must readily admit to every true fact. Any questions should be answered promptly to the best of the witness's memory. While making statements, a witness should never exaggerate an answer or allow an attorney's explanation of events to hold sway over testimony. A witness is allowed to correct a statement, if further clarification is needed. Honest mistakes during testimony are acceptable. However, volunteering information or stating personal conclusions and opinions when not asked is discouraged.

Knowingly making a false or misleading statement under oath constitutes the crime of perjury. To be convicted of perjury, a witness must have intended to mislead the court with false testimony. Conversely, a false statement made because of a memory lapse or confusion is not considered perjury.

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