Deposition Law and Legal Definition

Deposition is an out of court sworn testimony of a witness that is reduced in writing for later use in court or for discovery purposes. It is also referred to as examination before trial and is a pre trial procedure.

During a deposition a witness is placed under oath and swears to tell the truth. The parties involved in the case will be represented by an attorney and that attorney will have an opportunity to question the witness (referred to as a deponent for deposition purposes). A court reporter is also present recording every spoken word. Depositions can be either video or audio recorded. After the completion of the deposition the court reporter will create a written transcript of the deposition. The transcript will be made available to all parties.

Depositions are taken for several reasons which include:

  • Basic evidence gathering
  • To have a record of the witness’s testimony so that the witness may be impeached if he/she deviates from that testimony at trial
  • Gives attorneys an opportunity to ask questions that they may not be allowed to ask at trial (the rules of evidence generally do not apply to depositions)
  • To have the testimony available as evidence in case the deponent is not available, for any lawful reason at the time of trial (this is especially important for a witness who is near death).