What Is An Expert Witness?

An expert witness is someone who is able to testify about some sort of specialized field that is important in a trial. An expert witness typically didn’t actually “witness” anything. Most witnesses that testify in court testify to some sort of first-hand personal knowledge regarding the case at hand. An expert witness almost assuredly was not anywhere near the incident when it took place, nor has any first-hand knowledge of the case outside of what evidence was presented to him or her. According to Rule 702 in the in both the Michigan and Federal Rules, an expert witness is someone who can use their expert knowledge in a particular scientific, technical, or other specialized area to help determine what the facts are in a specific case.

How Is Someone Deemed An Expert Witness?

In the state of Michigan, in order to become an expert witness in a case. A court must first determine the need for an expert and then agree that the field of expertise is a recognized one. An expert is subject to being questioned by both attorneys and the judge regarding their expertise on a particular subject before they are deemed an expert witness for the case at hand. An expert witness typically has a high level of formal education on a particular subject and is also usually a published author regarding the same subject. Once an expert is allowed to testify, they typically give their opinions on specific areas of evidence in a particular case. An expert witness will draw their own opinions and conclusions from applying reliable principles or methods to the case at hand. Expert witnesses are extremely valuable to both prosecution and defense.

What Types Of Cases/Issues Use Expert Witnesses?

• DUI/OWI Cases
• Forensic Science
• DNA Analysis
• Fingerprint Analysis
• Police Misconduct
• Drug Analysis
• Handwriting Analysis
• Mental Health Assessments

How Can An Expert Witness Be Useful?

An expert witness can help a defense attorney to properly question something that most people don’t generally understand. For example, the Datamaster Breath Test is the most commonly used way that police departments get blood alcohol levels of suspected drunk drivers. The Datamaster is a complicated machine that uses science to determine intoxication. It can be assumed that members of a jury overseeing a drunk driving case have no real idea how the machine works, how reliable it is, and how often it needs to be calibrated to ensure it gives accurate readings. That’s where an expert witness comes in. An expert witness can examine the results of a Datamaster and give an opinion to the jury and judge that a regular person cannot. An expert witness can explain why a Datamaster machine gave an incorrect reading on someone’s blood alcohol content. Maybe the machine wasn’t calibrated to proper standards, maybe it was handled incorrectly, maybe the results were falsified. Whatever the reason for the inaccuracy, an expert witness is typically your only avenue to really attack this point in front of a jury. A regular witness simply won’t be allowed to testify about issues like this. An expert witness can truly be the difference between a conviction and an acquittal.

Do I Need An Expert Witness In My Case?

There are many areas in which an expert witness can be useful. When dealing with high-level felony cases, an expert can help explain DNA results, can help assess medical records, and can help describe someone’s state of mind. Most crimes that involve any sort of scientific or technical evidence will almost always need an expert witness in order to defend your case properly. Once an expert is selected, then the attorney will meet with the expert to have them analyze the evidence that they will testify about in court. Many ultimately become a “battle of the experts” where a jury is left deciding which expert they decide to side with. The only way to know for sure if you need an expert in your case is to speak with an attorney. We offer a FREE consultation to anyone that has any questions relating to this article or about their own cases. We have over 100 years of combined experience at our disposal to help answer any and all your questions. We are not a general practice law firm. At Grabel & Associates we lead the fight for justice from the front, and we do it by specifically focusing on the area of criminal defense. It’s all we do, and we do it best. If you or someone you love is facing a criminal charge and has questions, then call us at our 24/7 defense line at 1-800-342-7896 or contact us online.

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