Many people think that prosecutors and defenders can just use anyone as an expert witness. This is not true. While the requirements for being an expert witness in a court case aren’t as stringent as you might think, they do exist. Not just anyone can get up on the stand and testify as an expert, even if they have a very advanced degree from a good college. What someone is an “expert” at will vary. Some expert witness testimony doesn’t necessarily have to do with something you learn in college. They might have vast experience in a certain field and therefore be more competent than others to explain concepts to a jury.
The specifics of the requirement help to trim down the extremely broad requirement by the court, which states: “Expert witnesses must have “knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education” which will “help the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue,” as stated in Federal Rule of Evidence 702. This can get a bit confusing because of the broadness of the definition.
Courts make specific rules for certain types of testimony, such as that found in medical malpractice cases. Many states require that the expert witness be an expert in the same medical field as the person being tried for malpractice. This makes good sense. In order for the jury or judge to completely enter the witness’s testimony, they should be just as well-versed as the doctor or nurse who is facing the charge. This ensures a high level of expertise while being very fair to the healthcare provider that must face the charge.
If someone wants to work as an expert witness, there are some very logical things to take into consideration. First of all, your area of expertise needs to be in high demand. Unless there are a lot of different lawyers looking for your level of expertise, you’re not going to get a lot of work as an expert witness. This is common sense.
Another important thing to remember is that your own criminal history must be free of charges themselves. No lawyer wants an expert witness that has faced and been convicted of criminal charges. This completely overrides your authority on any subject and harms the client the lawyer is trying to defend. If you have a high level of expertise in a field that’s in demand and have a very clean record, you might want to look into being an expert witness.