Report: What are the concerns about expert witnesses?

On Behalf of | Feb 11, 2022 | Criminal Defense |

Evidence is at the center of any criminal case. Some forms are considered reliable, such as DNA evidence or ballistics. Meanwhile, other forms have come into question, such as eyewitness testimonies.

According to recent reports and movements, another heavily used form of evidence is under fire as well.

First: Remember you are “innocent until proven guilty”

You have likely heard that when facing criminal charges, you are “innocent until proven guilty.” This means that the burden is on the government to prove someone is guilty of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt. It is not up to the individual facing charges to prove their innocence.

This is one of the reasons why evidence plays such a large role in criminal cases.

What kind of evidence influences criminal cases?

There are many types of evidence permitted in criminal cases, including, but not limited to:

  • Eyewitness testimony
  • Physical evidence from crime scenes
  • Physical evidence from legal searches
  • Test results or documentary evidence

Another common form of evidence includes expert testimony. An expert witness could be a medical professional or a blood-spatter analyst who can provide testimony related to a particular aspect of a criminal case. It is common to see this kind of testimony in films or television programs when prosecutors call doctors to the stand. However, it has been up for debate for many years.

What are the issues surrounding expert witnesses?

Over the years, the role – and effect – of expert testimony has come into question. Reuters reports that issues and errors in forensic sciences, and the experts reporting about them, can increase the risk of false convictions and wrongful imprisonment. That is why there is a new proposal to amend the Federal Rules of Evidence to ensure a party must prove expert testimony is admissible – or relevant to the case – just like any other type of evidence they bring before the court.

This debate has a long history, and there are questions about whether this proposal will make a significant difference in criminal cases. For the time being, expert witnesses will likely continue to play a role in certain cases. This is just one of the reasons why it is important for individuals facing criminal charges to get experienced defense on their side.