What are Expert Witness Qualifications?

Erin J. Hill

There are several expert witness qualifications that one must meet in order to be considered as an expert witness in a trial or deposition. Although there is no set standard for being considered, determining who is eligible to act as an expert witness usually requires an examination of the person’s educational background, years of experience, and knowledge of the particular case being tried. Any combination of these expert witness qualifications will be taken under consideration when choosing witnesses for a case.

An expert witness offers expert advice in court.
An expert witness offers expert advice in court.

An expert witness is someone who is called upon to testify because he or she has some specialized knowledge or training which makes him or her knowledgeable about a particular subject matter. This person is generally used during a trial to prove or disprove a claim. For example, if a person is being tried for child abuse, his or her attorney may call in an expert witness to demonstrate that the victim in question does not exhibit behavior typical of an abusive situation. Expert witness qualifications in this case may include education in child psychology or experience in working with abused children.

When looking into expert witness qualifications, attorneys generally try to be as specific to their case as possible.
When looking into expert witness qualifications, attorneys generally try to be as specific to their case as possible.

When looking into expert witness qualifications, attorneys will generally try and be as specific to their case as possible. For instance, any child psychologist may have knowledge about the child abuse case mentioned above, but someone who specializes in counseling abused children may be more qualified than someone who deals with children from divorced families. To further qualify a witness, the attorney may also choose someone who specializes in a particular type of abuse. Sexual abuse, for example, may exhibit itself differently than emotional abuse.

In cases of child abuse, a child psychologist or caseworker may be called upon to serve as an expert witness.
In cases of child abuse, a child psychologist or caseworker may be called upon to serve as an expert witness.

If there are more than one qualified candidate, attorneys will likely narrow down the search for an expert witness by looking into each person’s educational history and work history. Any awards in their field will be noted, as well as any published works or past research that may relate to the case. The person chosen will also have to agree to make himself available for court-related duties, such as depositions, research, and the trial itself.

Expert witnesses can identify the signs of domestic abuse.
Expert witnesses can identify the signs of domestic abuse.

In most cases, the expert witness will be compensated for his or her time. Some trials may require more than one expert witness, each of which will be carefully chosen based on the criteria deemed most necessary for the case. Candidates are also judged on how well they answer questions under pressure and how likable or believable they may seem on the stand.

There is no set standard for being considered an "expert" witness.
There is no set standard for being considered an "expert" witness.
Some trials may require more than one expert witness.
Some trials may require more than one expert witness.

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Discussion Comments

cafe41

I was reading that in a lot of cases many attorneys seek the help of a forensic expert like a forensic psychologist that can attest to the fitness of the defendant.

These psychologists study criminal behavior and often put together criminal profiles for the police department and even the F.B. I.

I think that this type of work is fascinating. I have also seen cases when a testifying expert is a medical examiner that is giving testimony about the cause of death of a victim as well as the time of death the murder occurred.

I think that the expert witness testimony is so powerful that it can often sway a jury one way or the other.

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