Narrative

Narrative Definition

Narrative is a method that can be used to force a witness to explain the events leading up to a crime. Narrative is used by attorneys to try to get witnesses or defendants to share many facts versus one answer to a single question while they are on the stand. What narration does is that it makes the other attorney not able to object directly to questions that are not necessarily following the proper protocols in court. Witnesses need to be prepared for an attorney trying to get them to use narrative on the opposing side. Conversely, some attorneys try to get witnesses or defendants to use narration to explain their side of the events to help sway a jury in a particular direction. 

How Do I Prepare a Narrative from the Upcoming Case? 

One of the most challenging aspects of preparing a narrative is figuring out which facts are relevant and which facts are not. At first, consider what the trial is for and what they are trying to decide, then write down a bullet point list of things you observed that would be relevant to what the court is trying to learn. If you are very emotionally involved in the case, you need to separate your emotions from the facts, which is easier said than done. You have to ask yourself which facts happened and when. Knowing the sequence of your facts is important to give the most honest testimony possible. If you are getting frustrated, take a break, and then try to walk yourself through what happened and when those events happened. Try to be as specific as possible without including information that is not necessary for the court to hear. 

Should I Work with a Lawyer to Prepare my Narrative? 

Usually, an attorney will already be involved in these kinds of situations. If a defendant is being tried for a crime, attorneys will have witnesses that they call to the stand. If you are a witness, remember that both sides may examine you, and that experience may not be pleasant. The opposing counsel will be trying to find flaws in your story, which is why it is essential to know your facts carefully and to be honest. Assuming that you are already working with an attorney as a plaintiff, defendant, or a witness, then you should ask the lawyer assigned to the case to help you look over your narration and include any critical missing details. Attorneys will also be able to tell you which facts are not relevant to the case. Attorneys will also instruct you on what expressions and behaviors are appropriate in a courtroom. Make sure to follow the court's rules and be respectful. Judges do not take kindly to overly emotional plaintiffs, defendants, or witnesses. 

Should I Omit Facts from My Narrative? 

There are times where defendants and witnesses are pressured to not share key details that could have the power to change the outcome of the case dramatically. Pressures could come from dishonest attorneys or external political factors. There are even cases where witnesses or defendants are facing threats towards their family members or loved ones to testify in a specific way. Remember, perjuring yourself on the stand in a court of law in the United States is a crime. If the lies you testified come back to you later on, the punishments could be severe. Be sure to be honest and provide only the exact details you remember that are relevant to the case. Do not omit key information, or else you may face repercussions in the long-term. 

Narrative Glossary Definition

Narrative is a method used to clearly outline the facts of a case going to trial in the United States. Since many cases have facts and emotion intertwined, courts have adopted a system to use in order to try to remove emotion from testimony and court arguments. This system is effective in focusing on the relevant facts to applicable legal issues in court cases. Narrative is difficult to prepare for the first time. Working with an attorney for an upcoming case is recommended to have only the relevant facts ready to present at court.