What is a deposition?

UPDATED: Aug 15, 2013

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What is a deposition?

Asked on August 15, 2013 under Criminal Law, Indiana


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

A deposition is the taking of an oral statement of a witness under oath. It is done prior to a trial.

It is done for several reasons: 1. to find out what the witness knows, and 2. to preserve the witness's testimony. The purpose is to allow the parties to learn all of the facts before trial, so that no one is surprised in court.

A deposition usually takes place at an attorney's office. The attorney will ask the "deponent" (i.e. witness) questions about facts usually related to a lawsuit. The deponent must answer all proper questions but the deponent does not ask any questions. 

The deponent can have their attorney present and the parties to the case can also attend (judges however are not typically present). The entire deposition is written down by a court reporter and can last for s little as 20 minutes or as long as a week or more.

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