Expert witnesses are a crucial part of criminal defense. They (are expected to) offer an unbiased, expert opinion on the case that can help to sway the jury in favor of the defendant. However, not all expert witnesses are created equal. Some experts are more credible than others, and some have flaws that can hurt criminal defense cases.
Who is an expert witness?
An expert witness is a person who has special knowledge or experience in a particular field and who can shed light on the facts of a case. They are typically called to testify in criminal trials to offer their expert opinion on a variety of factors, such as the defendant’s mental state, the victim’s injuries or the technical aspects of the crime.
When are expert witnesses the problem?
Although expert witnesses are an invaluable part of criminal defense, they can hurt a case when they have a conflict of interest. For instance, if an expert witness is also a friend or colleague of the prosecutor, they may be less likely to offer an unbiased opinion.
Additionally, some experts make inaccurate statements that can hurt criminal defense efforts. This is often the case when experts do not have the appropriate training, education or qualifications to offer expert testimony.
It’s also common for experts to be biased in favor of their own field. For example, a medical expert may downplay the severity of injuries because they are not familiar with other types of injuries. This can lead to inaccurate testimony and ultimately affect the outcome of a criminal trial.
There are several things criminal defense attorneys do to protect their clients from flawed expert witnesses. First, many attorneys review the experts’ qualifications and background before calling them to testify. Secondly, they question these individuals about any potential conflicts of interest they may have and cross-examine them painstakingly to uncover any flaws.