What does an Expert Witness Consultant do?

Jessica Saras

An expert witness consultant is a type of witness who has specialized training or experience in a particular field, and has been deemed an expert in his or her subject area by a court of law. Such people are often brought in to testify during criminal trials, and provide scientific or technical information about certain evidence and how it relates to the case in question. Unlike other witnesses, who are called upon to discuss a particular event or individual, an expert witness is typically used to educate the court about his or her specialty area, and help members of the court understand the evidence or determine a specific fact.

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

Each jurisdiction has its own requirements for determining whether a person’s testimony is considered expert knowledge. Generally speaking, however, the witness must demonstrate that he or she has above-average expertise in a particular area through experience, training, or education. Although expert witnesses are not always required to have formal training in their field, the court must be satisfied that he or she can provide specialized knowledge of the area in question.

An expert witness consultant may specialize in fields such as finance, pyschology or forensic science.
An expert witness consultant may specialize in fields such as finance, pyschology or forensic science.

Once the court determines the individual meets the legal requirements for an expert witness consultant, he or she will be asked a series of hypothetical questions in order to educate the courtroom about his or her area of expertise. After members of the court have achieved a basic understanding of the subject in question, the expert witness will then discuss the facts of the specific case and, in many cases, provide an expert opinion about these facts. Some examples of an expert witness consultant include a police officer who offers insight regarding reasonable driving speeds, or a psychiatrist explaining an individual’s mental state.

In order to provide accurate information to the court, an expert witness consultant must base his or her testimony on facts and data only. While he or she may be allowed to give an opinion of the case, most courts require the witness to adequately demonstrate his or her knowledge before such testimony can be admitted as evidence in a trial. Each expert’s qualifications will be evaluated on an individual basis.

Depending on the jurisdiction, an expert witness consultant is most often used to explain why or how particular conclusions were drawn, or discuss information that may be outside the range of normal knowledge. Generally, he or she will simply state facts, and allow members of the court to draw their own conclusions, or the witness will state facts as well as provide an opinion on them. Court members can, in turn, evaluate the testimony to determine whether they agree or disagree with the expert opinion.

While expert testimony is not always admissible in court, expert witness consultants can often influence the outcome of a trial. In many cases, such testimony can greatly affect a judge or jury’s final verdict. As a result, an expert witness consultant can provide the most important evidence during a trial.

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