Expert evidence is used to provide information to the Court, which is likely to be outside of the knowledge of the Magistrates, Judge or Jury. Opinion evidence may be given if the expert is qualified to provide such an opinion.
Duty of an Expert Witness
An expert is under a duty to assist the Court by providing opinion which is objective and unbiased in relation to matters within their expertise. The duty is one which is owed to the Court, as opposed to the instructing party.
The Criminal Procedure Rules require an expert to provide certain information such as any potential conflict, an appeal which has been allowed due to a deficiency in their evidence, convictions or adverse judicial comment.
Will an Expert always be heard?
Applications can be made to exclude expert evidence if it is argued its prejudicial effect outweighs its probative value. The Courts have also indicated a willingness to exclude expert evidence if it is insufficiently helpful to a Jury in reaching its conclusions. The Court can also reject evidence, for example, if it decides that an expert has not properly established their independence or has not complied with their duty to the Court.
We shall not hesitate to challenge experts called to give evidence by the Prosecution if there is a prospect of exclusion.
What types of Expert are used in criminal cases?
There is a wide range of relevant expertise in criminal law. These include forensics such as mobile telephone, computer, DNA and fingerprints or footwear marks, facial recognition where identification from a still or CCTV is in issue, medical experts in respect of injuries, psychiatric or psychological reports, autopsies or gait analysis.
How do you find an Expert?
We maintain a register of tried and tested experts in each discipline. An expert witness is not just an expert in their field, they have additional skills such as report writing and experience of providing oral testimony [evidence] in Court.
It is important, therefore, to get the right expert witness for your case and we can do this for you.
How can we help?
We ensure that the prosecution evidence is thoroughly probed, challenged and tested and ask the searching question of it. In appropriate cases, we instruct suitable expert(s) from our register to assist in the preparation of the defence case and, if necessary, provide a further opinion with a view to considering an alternative to the Prosecution’s case.
For specialist advice and representation concerning any aspect of criminal law please contact: –
Karen Gudger –Senior Legal Consultant
Tel: 0121 726 9116