Can Anyone Be Called as a Witness During My Trial?
As you’re preparing to go to trial there are many unknowns and uncertainties you may be wondering about. One of those things is probably who will be called to testify against you. There are three main categories of witnesses, and understanding what they are and what purpose their testimony serves can give you a better idea of what to expect in court.
A lay witness, also often called an ‘eyewitness’, is the most common type of witness in a trial. If there are multiple witnesses to an event, lawyers will look for consistent elements in their accounts. These consistencies are used to put together a more complete picture of the events that took place. The testimony of a lay witness is sometimes unreliable, though it is generally assumed to be better than circumstantial evidence. Circumstantial evidence is evidence that doesn’t prove a key fact, but the fact it does prove can be used to infer information about a key fact.
An expert witness is someone who specializes in a certain field or area of knowledge, and their expertise is needed in a case. We often think of forensic experts explaining blood splatters and medical practitioners when talking about an expert witness, but expert witnesses can be used in just about any legal dispute or court case. When items malfunction and cause harm, engineers can be called in as an expert witness to describe problems with the manufacturing, and accountants can be used in divorce cases to determine if spouses were hiding assets.
A character witness is someone that knows either the victim, the defendant, or other people directly involved in the case. As the name implies they aren’t witnesses to any event but rather the ‘character’ of the victim or defendant, and a character witness testimony is used to better understand their personality and habits. This can include neighbors, friends, family members, and clergy members. The state of Pennsylvania acknowledges spousal privilege which means that the court can’t force spouses to testify against one another with a few exceptions, such as spouses involved in a tax evasion scheme together.
Build Your Case
These witnesses aren’t called just to make the defendant look as bad as possible, they’re called to get the truth. As some of the best criminal defense lawyers in Philadelphia, we understand the importance of having witnesses who will give the jury a better understanding of who you are, not the crime you are accused of committing. If you need criminal defense in Philadelphia then don’t hesitate, contact Brennan Law Offices today.