Sexual Assault Trial in Union County & Taking the Stand

A recent Union County sexual assault case provides a good example of why clients should listen to their criminal defense attorneys when they tell them not to testify at trial. In a recent the New Jersey sexual assault case, the defendant was convicted and sentenced to the maximum prison term after sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl, even though the victim’s mother expressed in court that she empathized with the defendant. The convict was a 31-year-old man who suffered from a brain injury when he was 18-years-old and as a result never mentally departed from his teenage years. At trial he gave a speech, against the request of his attorney, in which he apologized to the victim and explained that he felt more like a teenager than an adult. The victim’s mother, a teacher who works with children suffering from brain injuries also spoke in court and explained that she understood his point of view, but that what he did was wrong. Despite the fact that the speech shed light on the defendant’s intention and drew sympathy and tears from those present, it was also noted by those at the trial that the speech was disturbing and gave the overall message that the defendant would continue sexually assaulting young girls. The judge ultimately convicted him to the absolute maximum sentence.

Although defendants often want to tell their story at trial, there are many reasons why this may be a bad idea, even if the defendant is truly innocent. While a jury may be instructed to only take note of certain things this is virtually impossible. Juries are combined not just of people, but of all the experiences and prejudices that have accumulated throughout their lives. Every little detail of the defendant’s decorum can affect the outcome of a case and sometimes it is better for the defendant to dress appropriately and say nothing. An attorney with a lot of experience may be aware that his client will look suspect if he speaks to the jury for countless reasons that have never even been contemplated by the defendant. These reasons can often only be learned through a life time of practicing law and this is one of many reasons why it is important to pick an experienced attorney and listen carefully to his advice. My name is Anthony N. Palumbo, New Jersey sex crime defense attorney and I have more than 35 years of criminal trial experience. For more information on sex crimes and criminal process in New Jersey, contact me at 1-886-664-8118 or visit my website at or