It is likely that you have questions about what will be asked of you during a deposition. It is extremely important to approach any deposition as professionally and as honestly as possible. It is natural to wonder what questions are asked during a deposition since you'll want to be as prepared as possible.
Depositions are used to lay out the basic information in the case, involving questions that are asked by lawyers on both sides. These depositions are usually very long, such as several hours, because the lawyers involved are trying to get as much information as possible about what witnesses know. If you have been called to participate in a deposition, you want to know the format of the entire event and the kinds of questions likely asked.
Read on to learn more about what happens during a typical deposition and how best to prepare yourself. A deposition is a formal process through which witnesses provide sworn evidence. Their testimony can be used at later parts in the trial, so it is extremely important to be prepared, knowledgeable, and honest when approaching this process. Depositions occur during the pre-trial part of a claim, specifically to determine what a witness does know and to allow that testimony to be preserved for future use in court. In most cases, depositions are held in the office of an attorney, and it may be possible that these are scheduled over the course of a half-day or a full day. A court reporter is present to capture information from a deposition, and it is his or her responsibility to maintain an exact record of everything said during the deposition.
When you are being deposed under oath, you must respond to all questions asked by the deposing attorney. Deposition questions will vary based on the type of case in question, but background introductory and deposition preparation questions are all very standard.
Understanding Introductory Questions
There are a few purposes to introductory questions. They can help you get adjusted to the process and understand what to expect in the process of going through a deposition by putting you at ease and can also help to keep the witness honest at trial. This is because the information they provide during that time can be used in the future. Some of the most common types of preliminary questions for depositions include:
- Have you ever had a deposition taken previously?
- Do you understand that your answers today are given under oath?
- Are you prepared to answer the questions made today?
- Do you understand that your responses here are the same as if made in a courtroom in front of a jury and judge?
- Is there anything that could distract you from providing me your full attention during this process?
- Are you taking any medications that could impede your ability to answer these questions?
- Will you let me know if you do not understand one of the questions I have asked?
- If you need to take a break, are you aware that you can request a break?
These questions are meant to protect both the questioning attorney and the person being deposed. This ensures that everyone is on the same page about the purpose of the deposition and how the day will flow. This then leads to background questions. This next step of the process involves what questions are asked during a deposition that is pretty standard across many different case types.
Basic Background Questions
You will first be asked to identify yourself including your age, date of birth, any nicknames, your full name, age, and possibly even your social security number. Your residential history, such as your current contact information, residential address, and any other people who live with you may be established at this time. You may also be asked about your educational, marital, and legal history. These questions are relatively standard and should not be concerning for you so long as you know all of the answers.
They are primarily used to gather your background details and to help determine things, such as whether or not you have been convicted of a crime in the past and where you attended school. This might not seem immediately relevant to the case at hand, but because these are standard questions asked during deposition, there is nothing to be concerned about as far as these being off the radar. These are relatively standard and can be anticipated in all types of depositions early on in the process.
Preparing for a Deposition
The deposing attorney is allowed to ask questions about how you have prepared for the deposition. This is primarily to establish whether or not you have been involved in any unethical practices, such as being told to say a specific thing. Some of the most common questions asked in this way include:
- What documents associated with the case have you reviewed?
- Have you talked to anyone other than your legal counsel about this case, and if so, who are they?
- How did you prepare for this deposition?
- Have you signed any agreements or spoken with any reporters regarding this case?
- Have you met with attorneys for the other side as a process of preparing for this deposition?
After this point in time, very specific questions related to the case at hand will be asked during the deposition. You can always meet with your own legal counsel or the attorney representing the party you are familiar with in the case to discuss how to prepare for a deposition. It is not your job to memorize answers or come to the table with very specific texts that you wish to share. Instead, it is your responsibility to communicate honestly and openly. In some cases, meeting with a lawyer can help put you at ease because you'll have a better idea of the kinds of questions that will be asked. This is different from being told what to say or being coached in a very specific manner.
Many of the early questions asked during the deposition process are primarily used to determine whether or not you have been overly or unethically prepared to participate in the deposition. If you have simply done your best to provide honest answers and have participated in preparatory work to put your mind at ease and to have more clarity, this is not illegal. In fact, many people review documents associated with the case because they may not remember the details, or it has been a long period of time since they were originally introduced to this information. This is a normal review and is not something to lie about or be concerned about as you approach this case. Set aside a time to meet with an attorney if you have further questions about this process and what to expect.