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Could expert witness testimony pose any risks to defendants?

On Behalf of | Jun 12, 2023 | Violent crimes

As a criminal defendant in the U.S., you have the right to participate in decisions that may impact your case. One decision you may face is whether to engage expert witnesses to testify on your behalf.

The testimony of an expert may lend credibility to your account of the events in question. However, the use of expert testimony sometimes poses a risk of worsening matters for the defendant.

A look at the “left-handed killer” fictional plot device might clarify how expert witnesses could help a defense or damage it, possibly severely.

How can it help?

Let’s say you are charged with murdering someone by stabbing them repeatedly in the chest. An expert forensic pathologist reviews the evidence and determines the killer had to be left-handed to cause such wounds.

Since you are right-handed, this testimony could improve your case, especially if the prosecutor cannot refute the expert’s statements or findings.

How could it hurt?

A skilled prosecutor can poke numerous holes in defense theories and strategies. In the case of the left-handed killer, they may be able to press your forensic pathologist until they say something the prosecutor can use against you.

Some witnesses may falter under an aggressive cross-examination, perhaps inadvertently refuting their own testimony or creating a weakness for the prosecutor to exploit.

The takeaway

This is only a fictional scenario, but it shows how every decision made after an arrest can have unforeseen consequences, even something that seems beneficial. In Maryland, violent offenders are treated harshly upon conviction. Consider obtaining guidance before you make major decisions that may impact your criminal case.