How Expert Witnesses Help in a Criminal Defense

On several occasions, criminal trials turn to the testimony provided by expert witnesses. An expert witness’ testimony provides the jury with a qualified perspective on critical evidence. It is this qualified and specialized knowledge that plays such an important role for criminal defendants.

Florida law permits the use of expert witnesses at trial. Specifically, the law allows for expert witness testimony to be admitted at trial so long as the expert’s “scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact in understanding the evidence or in determining a fact in issue[.]” Thus, an expert’s testimony is admissible if it is relevant and provides greater understanding of a matter at issue.

Who Is Considered an “Expert” Witness?

An individual must meet certain criteria before he or she can be identified as an expert witness. Contrary to popular belief, Florida law does not set requirements specifying that an expert witness must have completed a certain level of education. An expert witness need not be a rocket scientist, a doctor, or any other highly educated individual. Instead, an expert witness needs only be someone with the “knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education” necessary to testify with regard to the specific matter.

Skilled criminal defense attorneys play a critical role in securing expert witness testimony. Criminal defense attorneys work to locate and identify experts within those fields that will be relevant at trial. These experts can include forensic scientists, psychologists, medical doctors, automotive specialists, and lab technicians. A skilled criminal defense attorney will be capable of identifying those individuals with the nuanced knowledge, experience, or training necessary to defend their client.

Preparing a Witness for Trial

A criminal defense attorney also helps prepare expert witnesses’ testimony. Expert witnesses can provide testimony at trial as well as during the discovery phase. Under the rules of criminal procedure, the names of expert witnesses retained for trial must be disclosed to the opposing party. Since the opposing party will have access to an expert witness and his or her reports, a criminal defense attorney may wish to prepare the expert with regard to answering questions. An expert cannot fail to disclose information regarding evidence used to reach his or her determination(s). However, an attorney can, and often will, participate in preparing the expert witness with regard to how the expert should, lawfully, answer questions from opposing counsel.

Expert witnesses are entitled to receive a fee for their services. According to Florida statute, an expert witness who testifies in a legal proceeding is entitled to a fee for his or her services. The court permits witnesses fees to be in the amount agreed to by the parties. Therefore, an experienced criminal defense attorney should be able to identify a reasonable fee for an experts services.

A St. Petersburg Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help

An expert witness is an important part of a criminal defendant’s legal defense. The testimony an expert witness may provide in support of a criminal defendant’s case may mean the difference between a verdict of guilty or not guilty. Here at the Khonsari Law Group, we recognize the importance of identifying and retaining expert witnesses in order to better improve your chances of an acquittal. We will carefully review the facts of your case in order to develop the best possible legal defense. Let our criminal defense experience work for you. Schedule your initial consultation by calling (727) 269-5300 or writing us online today.