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Expert Witnesses in Criminal Defense

The Role of Expert Witnesses in a Criminal Defense Case

Hiring expert witnesses in a criminal defense case can make the difference between winning or losing your case. Assume your jurors are not experts in the alleged criminal activity before the court. An expert can help unravel scientific, technical, and medical issues so the jurors can more easily understand the issues at hand.

Under Alabama law, the burden of proof is on the prosecutor bringing the charges. It is their job to convince the court of the defendant’s guilt. In a criminal proceeding, experts will likely be brought in by both sides to explain to the jurors what happened and to put the action in the proper context.

An expert for the defense can challenge the prosecutor’s version of events.

 

The Expert Witness   

A criminal case depends on evidence to convince jurors the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a high standard for the prosecutor to meet, requiring jurors to be 98 to 99 percent certain of the prosecutor’s case based on the evidence brought forth.

It is not up to the defendant to convince the jurors of his innocence.

The experts we hire must be free of conflicts of interest or bias. They must be certified by the courts as having the expertise required to explain events to a jury. They should have professional knowledge and an extensive education in their field.

Experts in a criminal case may include:

  • A Forensic expert – Used to examine the crime scene and make conclusions.
  • Psychologist – In the case of insanity or mental illness, a psychologist can convince the court of the defendant’s mental state.
  • Accountants – Fraud, embezzlement, money laundering, and insider trading are heard in criminal court, especially when large amounts of money are lost. An accountant can explain to the jurors how the fraud occurred and any amount that should be paid as restitution.
  • Medical Doctor – may be used to determine the cause of death and how long the individual was dead at the discovery time.
  • Accident Reconstructionist – Can recreate an accident and determine who is at fault.
  • Life Care Plan Expert – In the case of a life care plan, this expert can identify the cost of a lifetime of medical care.

The expert witness will prepare a report to be presented to the court, and the other side can ask questions about its contents. The expert can state facts from their professional opinion, education, and technical knowledge.

Under the Alabama Rules of Evidence, the Daubert standard is the framework for assessing the reliability of the expert’s testimony. It questions whether the expert’s theory has been tested, whether it has been peer-reviewed, its rate of error, and its acceptance by the scientific community.

Criminal cases may be complex and challenging for jurors to understand without the help of experts. You can bet the other side will try to muddy the waters and make things as complicated as possible.

With the right team, an expert’s credibility will make it easier for jurors to come to the correct conclusion.

Your criminal defense attorney will make himself an expert in the facts of the case and the expert’s background. What papers has he authored? Is his research considered mainstream or not? Is his information demonstrably false? How is it wrong, and why? Attorney Jason Darley understands the importance of studying the expert witness and the knowledge he brings forth.

Your attorney will advance the payment to the expert for his time, report, and testimony in court, which could stretch many days. The cost of the expert will be reimbursed out of your compensatory award or any settlement amount.

The other side will likely hire an expert to refute your expert’s judgment.

Your Alabama Criminal Defense Attorney 

Criminal defense attorney Jason Darley understands the role of a defense attorney in coordinating the information that will be presented to the jury. He is fully prepared to challenge an opposing expert’s opinion, especially if it is outside of the mainstream.

A credible expert witness may make the difference between a conviction or a jury vote to acquit the defendant.

Attorney Jason Darley is available at his Mobile office for a confidential and complimentary consultation on your case. If you are facing criminal charges, Mr. Darley can be reached at (251) 441-7772.

 

Sources: 

AL Rules of Evidence
http://judicial.alabama.gov/docs/library/rules/ev703.pdf

http://judicial.alabama.gov/docs/library/rules/ev706.pdf

Chapter 21- Evidence and Witness
https://law.justia.com/codes/alabama/2016/title-12/chapter-21/article-1/division-2/division-2/section-12-21-160

Expert Witness
https://adla.org/wp-content/uploads/Sp17-Expert-Witnesses.pdf

Rule 609
https://judicial.alabama.gov/docs/library/rules/ev609.pdf

Testify training
https://www.testifyingtraining.com/daubert-frye-used-expert-witness-testimony-admissibility-alabama/#:~:text=Depending%20on%20the%20subject%20of,admissibility%20of%20expert%20witness%20testimony.

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