What Happens During A Deposition?

Typically, a deposition will occur at the office of either the attorney or the court reporter, but it could also take place at your own office if you have one and would feel more comfortable.

Attorneys from both the defense and the prosecution will be present, as will a court reporter and any other witnesses required to give depositions, who will be referred to as deponents throughout the process.

What happens during a deposition

First things first, you’ll swear an oath on your preferred religious text (or not) to answer as honestly as you can.

The lawyers will then go through all of the rules for a deposition, instructing you to give clear, audible responses when asked anything.

Each attorney will then have their opportunity to ask the deponents questions during the direct examination - the respective lawyers on the other side can then cross-examine that witness afterward if they would like to.

If anyone is asked something inappropriate, either party can object to the question, and deponents are also allowed to modify the answers they have given if they would like. This can then later be referred to by lawyers should the case go to trial, though.

The only thing that a deponent needs to concern themselves with is making sure they provide the most straightforward and honest answers they can give. Lying under oath, even during a deposition, still counts as perjury, so you could go to jail.

Once everything’s all wrapped up, the court reporter prepares a transcription of the interview which is then sent to both parties for them to analyze and interpret in the lead up to either a trial or settlement, depending on what happens.

What can I expect at a deposition hearing?

Don’t worry - they’re very straightforward and simple, nothing to stress about. If you’ve been summoned to provide a deposition in court, it essentially means you’re being provided with an opportunity to share your side of events regarding a case.

Basically, it’s a strategy employed by legal representatives who are trying to obtain information that could help them win a case before it goes to trial in court. It takes place outside of the courtroom, but you’re still under oath the entire time.

Much like when giving testimony in court, you are still liable for perjury if you knowingly provide false information during a deposition, so it is extremely important that you tell the truth at all times - a recorder,  never lies, after all!

A deposition will usually be given down at the attorney’s office, so it can feel a bit nerve-wracking to go in there - especially because there’s no judge present to oversee things. Try not to panic, though - your own lawyer will be there with you.

The introductory questions you’ll be asked will be very simple, like giving your full name, how old you are, where you live, where you went to school and other simple facts like that. After this, things get a little bit more complicated

Be prepared and stay calm - if the lawyer is trying to discover information about the case, they may use leading questions or attempt to twist what you say. It’s important that you remain focused on responding with the truth, to the best of your ability.

Keep in mind that much like being in a courtroom, when the lawyer asks you questions then you only want to answer what they’ve asked, without giving any extra or unnecessary information. Try to pause for a few seconds after each one is given.

Not only will this give your lawyer the opportunity to object if necessary, you’ll be able to think about your response. Remember - it isn’t just a chat! If there’s silence at any point, you don’t have to fill it or offer extra information. Just answer the questions.

Around ninety percent of legal cases will be resolved before they reach a trial in court, so the transcript of your deposition may not be used. If it does go to trial, then your answers can be presented as evidence, so be careful what you say.

What comes first deposition or mediation?

That depends on the situation! Either or both could happen. Deposition and mediation are two legal terms that are commonly mistaken for each other, but they actually mean very different things and neither comes in a particular order.

Mediation refers to a legal dispute between parties that could be resolved without going to trial. This is usually determined by a judge, who has assessed the case and what positions the participants are in, then ordering them to attend mediation.

Traditionally, this involves both parties and their legal representatives attending in order to both offer up their respective arguments, whilst a third neutral party observes and “mediates” - helping everyone to work through their issues, basically.

The mediator themselves does not exist to “resolve” the case - it’s up to the parties to come to an agreement or understanding, which is then documented as a “mediation agreement,” which is signed by both sides as a legally binding resolution.

A deposition, however, simply involves the legal representatives for both parties taking interviews to gather facts, figures, and evidence from various different individuals or entities involved in the case. 

Whether recorded as written transcripts via the court’s legal reporting company, a deposition is basically a sworn testimony masquerading as a conversation. Anything said can be brought up in court, so it’s important to remember it isn’t just a chat!

What is the main purpose of a deposition?

Essentially, to gather information! It allows both legal parties to interview witnesses with information pertaining to the case, usually taking place a significant amount of time before the trial itself begins.

If performed properly, not only can you use a deposition to confirm the facts, allowing lawyers to collect valuable notes that help their assessments of the case to be as accurate as possible, allowing a bigger chance of success in a future trial.

According to lawyers themselves, the primary purposes of a deposition are as follows:

  • Seeking admissions of guilt
  • Seeking discovery of information
  • Testing out possible theories
  • Gathering material that will support motions or trials
  • Observing witnesses from the other side of the case
  • Cementing potential testimonies

It’s possible to perform all of these tasks at the same time if you know what you’re doing, of course. It’s important to be diligent with your depositions, which is why preparatory planning for them is so extensive. 

What is the meaning of deposition in law?

According to the law of the United States, a deposition refers to taking an oral testimony, sworn outside of court, from a witness to a crime. This can later be written up as a transcript for the purposes of being used as evidence in court.

They are regularly used in legal proceedings across the US and Canada, primarily conducted outside of the courtroom by the lawyers, without the supervision of a judge to oversee the examination process.

As part of the discovery process, lawyers use depositions to collect information from those involved in the case in order to prepare for a trial before it begins. You may hear it referred to as Examination Before Trial (EBT) in some cases.