What Constitutes “Expert Testimony” in a Criminal Trial?

Some crimes, ranging from violent crimes to white-collar crimes, involve complex circumstances. Whether those circumstances includes convoluted financial transactions or voluminous documents, the State or the defense may wish to assist the jury in wading through this information through an expert testimony.

Expert Testimony in NC Criminal Trials | Raleigh Defense Atty Brinkley

Expert testimony can be a useful tool in criminal trials, whereas the defense calls on an expert in some field to clarify facts or further define the defense to the jury. Nonetheless, if using expert testimony, you need a highly experienced defense attorney who can achieve the most benefit from the expert. Depending on the unique circumstances of the case, Raleigh NC criminal defense attorney Dewey Brinkley may consider using expert testimony. To speak to attorney Brinkley about the circumstances of your case, call our Raleigh law firm today at (919) 832-0307.

Expert Testimony in North Carolina Criminal Trials

North Carolina law (Chapter 8C, Article 7) describes many of the legal rules and other aspects of using expert testimony in criminal trials. Although substantial controversy existed in North Carolina courts regarding the use of expert testimony, the nominal North Carolina Supreme Court case Howerton v. Arai Helmet, Ltd put much of this controversy to rest.

Essentially, this controversy refers to when an expert testimony is admissible in the court proceedings. The Howerton case rejected the U.S. Supreme Court’s gatekeeping test and reiterated its previous three-part test, which includes:

  1. Is the expert’s proffered method of proof sufficiently reliable as an area for expert testimony?
  2. Is the witness testifying at trial qualified as an expert in that area of
  3. Is the expert’s testimony relevant?

If these three aspects apply to the expert testimony, then the testimony may be admitted to the case.

Testimony By Experts

The prosecution and the defense cannot handpick an individual off the street and claim “expert testimony.” Instead, expert testimony is only admissible in court “if scientific, technical or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue.” Furthermore, the witness must be qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education, who can testify in the form of an opinion.

Lastly, the following conditions must apply to the expert testimony:

  1. The testimony is based upon sufficient facts or data.
  2. The testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods.
  3. The witness has applied the principles and methods reliably to the facts of the case.

Expert Testimony on Character or a Trait of Character

When it comes to the character of the accused, and whether the accused’s character or trait of character may shed light on his/her role in the crime (or lack of a role in the crime), expert testimony is not admissible. Although there are several reasons for this, the main reason is that circumstantial evidence of character is not a suitable piece of evidence in a criminal trial.

Contact the Law Office of Dewey P. Brinkley in Raleigh NC

Especially in cases where the defendant is facing severe punishments, expert testimony can be a very important tool to help clarify and further explain some highly technical details. At the Law Office of Dewey P. Brinkley, we’ll only call for expert testimony when it is legally admissible and when the case can benefit from it. At the same time, we boast years of experience challenging the state’s expert testimony, and how that testimony relates to the alleged offenses.

If you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor or a felony in North Carolina, make sure to call the leading Raleigh criminal defense attorney. For a free, no-obligation consultation with attorney Dewey Brinkley, call our Raleigh law firm today at (919) 832-0307.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *