How Are Expert Witnesses Used in Criminal Cases?

A criminal conviction could land a Colorado resident in prison for a significant period. But, there’s more. Having a conviction on your record could result in damage to your reputation and a series of other lasting consequences.

If you’ve been accused of a serious crime in Colorado, you must be prepared to face these charges, whether that means negotiating the best deal available or taking the matter to trial. Should you decide to go to trial, you’ll want to make sure that you have the strongest legal defense possible.

One defense method that can be beneficial during a trial is the use of expert witnesses. Colorado law specifies how different types of testimony are admissible in court, and this type of evidence can strengthen your case if used properly.

Expert vs. Lay Opinion Testimony in Colorado

According to the Colorado Rules of Evidence, testimony is separated into two categories: lay opinions and opinions by expert witnesses.

A lay opinion is testimony from anyone who is not considered an “expert.” These are generally people who were at the scene of a crime or who know one of the parties personally. They can give opinions with respect to certain matters based on their observations, but these are not necessarily people with specialized training.

A layperson might testify concerning the identity of a person or a person’s observed state of sobriety. However, they cannot speculate, and the court can decide how much weight to give to this type of testimony.

Expert testimony is different. Experts are people who are asked to testify and provide their opinions about specific matters relative to their expertise. Expert opinion is admissible if the person giving the testimony:

  • Has training, skill, education, experience, or knowledge relevant to the opinion; and
  • Technical, scientific, or other specialized knowledge will help the jury in understanding a fact in issue or the evidence.

How Expert Witnesses Are Used in Criminal Cases

When people think of expert witnesses, they picture someone stepping up to the witness stand and providing testimony. In fact, there are two ways that expert witnesses are used in criminal cases.

  • Consulting Experts. A consulting expert is someone that we work with outside the courtroom to create a strong defense. For example, a consulting expert could provide information that assists with the team’s legal strategy, such as to help determine if a DUI testing machine was calibrated properly. In some cases, the prosecutor won’t know that an expert was consulted in your case.
  • Testifying Expert. A testifying expert is one who your attorney will have ready to testify in court if it becomes necessary. This might be the same person as your consulting expert, but these people should also have certain characteristics. Specifically, they should have prior courtroom experience, be comfortable testifying and dealing with cross-examination, and be able to easily explain complex issues to a jury.

Different Types of Expert Witness Testimony

The assistance of expert witnesses can be essential to the defense of a misdemeanor or criminal charge in federal or state court. There are a variety of types of expert witnesses that are useful in criminal cases, and sometimes more than one will be used. Some of the common types of experts that we use include:

  • Fingerprint analysts
  • DNA experts
  • Medical experts
  • Accounting and finance experts
  • Computer forensic experts
  • Polygraph examiners
  • Firearms experts
  • Toxicologists
  • DUI experts
  • Blood splatter experts
  • Forensic science experts
  • Child sexual abuse/interview experts

Colorado Springs Criminal Defense Lawyers

When you’ve been accused of a crime, you only get one chance to put forth the strongest defense possible. Failing to do so could have grave consequences. At Anderson & Carnahan, Attorneys at Law, we understand the criminal justice system in Colorado Springs and specialize in effective and aggressive criminal defense.

While we may spot issues or problems that can help your case, it has to be an expert that investigates and testifies about them. An attorney can’t testify on your behalf. A knowledgeable expert can sometimes make the difference between a guilty or not guilty verdict and may be able to help get a reduction in charges.

Our firm has established relationships with experienced, respected, and knowledgeable experts in various areas across the Southwest. We will always recommend this approach when it might improve the outcome of your case.

Whether you are facing charges for DUI, drug crimes, white collar crimes, sex crimes, or some other serious matter, our legal team wants to speak with you about your case. Contact our office today at (719) 473-9099 to schedule an initial consultation.

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