Trials & Expert Testimony
Thanks to the many crime-solving television shows, most of us are familiar with the use of expert testimony in trials. Expert witnesses have specific knowledge, training, and/or experience to help the court understand particularly technical or complex elements of cases. Because expert witnesses are recognized as being a leading authority on the specific subject being discussed, they can give opinions, not just state facts, as is the rule with other witnesses.
Expert witnesses are permitted in cases where the testimony is based upon sufficient facts or data, the product of reliable principles and methods, and applied reliably to the facts of the case. This is not always a clear-cut determination, but generally, if the expert is qualified, following court directions and telling the truth, their testimony will be allowed.
When and Why is Expert Testimony Important?
Expert testimony is necessary when key issue of a case depends on understanding evidence that is not within the common knowledge of the judge or jury. For this reason, an expert witness not only needs to be an expert, but he or she also needs to be able to present evidence and information in a clear manner. Expert testimony has to be simple for the jury to comprehend and easy to connect with the circumstances of the case.
Expert testimony is helpful, not just because it can help juries draw conclusions from facts, but also because it can help refute conclusions drawn in the opposing counsel’s case. In both civil and criminal cases, expert witnesses can point out flaws in a witness’s testimony or in the police investigation. They can oppose or support the conclusions of other expert witnesses. Expert testimony gives attorneys a way to highlight the facts of a case that support their position.
In most trials nowadays, expert testimony is almost a foregone conclusion. Juries expect to hear an expert confirm that a narrative is supported by scientific evidence, and they tend to trust facts when presented with scientific evidence. Furthermore, when expert testimony is not presented by the defense to a jury in a criminal case, there will rarely be sufficient evidence to establish reasonable doubt. Expert witnesses are much more trustworthy than other witnesses, especially character witnesses. Verdicts in trials can, and quite often have, determined by the testimony of experts.
If you are going to trial, you should seriously consider ways that expert testimony may help your case. Discuss your options with your Pittsburgh defense lawyer right away, so that an expert has time to prepare to present evidence in court. It always helps when your defense attorney has established relationships with experts in the fields that come up commonly in their cases. They will be better able to find a qualified and composed expert for the stand, and they will be better equipped to determine if an expert will be appropriate in your case.
If you are looking for a Pittsburgh defense lawyer with years of experience, contact us immediately at Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC to discuss your options. We can be reached 24/7 to begin discussing your defense at (412) 281-2146. Trust us to fight for your rights.