This is the next post in my series on the handling of federal criminal charges in the Western District of Texas. My last article discussed the types of charges often brought in Federal Court. It is important for an accused individual to understand that the United States Government has its own set of laws which form the foundation of cases brought. Federal charges can range from low level offenses, occurring on land belonging to the government, to large scale drug trafficking charges. Whatever the offense is that you have been charged with, it is important that you retain an attorney who is licensed in the District and who is experienced in handling such matters. In this article I will explain the process of dealing with expert witnesses in a federal case. If you or a loved one are in need of assistance then contact my office today to speak with an Austin lawyer.
Federal Courts only allows experts to testify as to matters involving specialized skill, knowledge, or experience
The federal rules of evidence do not allow for a layperson to testify in regard to matters which involve specialized skill, knowledge, or extensive experience. Testimony related to such matters require that an individual be designated as an “expert” by the Court. There are a number of situations in which a defendant may require an expert to testify on their behalf. Such situations can involve cyber/computer related offenses which can delve into complex subject matter, complex financial crimes, or instances in which a defendant wishes to challenge the credibility of blood or DNA evidence. When a defendant presents expert testimony the prosecution will typically offer testimony from their own expert in response. The credibility of, and weight given to, the testimony of each expert will be decided by the jury. The jurors may find one expert more credible than the other or they may disregard the testimony of both experts enritely.
The use of expert witnesses is best explained by way of example. Suppose an individual is charged with a cyber related offense which involved the manipulation of various DNS records and web traffic. An expert from both the prosecution and the defense may very well offer differing opinions as to whether server records show evidence of manipulation or if the web traffic patterns can be interpreted as normal. As part of establishing the expertise of each side’s witness, the jurors will be informed of the qualifications of the experts. These qualifications can include formal education, work experience, etc. Also, as part of establishing the witnesses’ expertise, the Court will inform the jurors that the individuals are to be considered “experts.” The jurors will hear the testimony and decide the weight, if any, it should be given when they are reaching their final verdict.
Federal defendants should retain an attorney who is experienced in dealing with expert witnesses
If a federal defendant is involved in a case which requires expert testimony then it is important that they retain an attorney who is experienced in dealing with experts. The presentation of such testimony, and the information it involves, can involve information which is complex and possibly difficult to understand. Presenting such information to the jury in a manner that is clear and concise will often increase the chances that the jurors give weight to the testimony. It is, therefore, important to retain counsel who is experienced in such matters as they may be more likely to present testimony in a way which does not go “over the heads” of the jurors.
If you or a loved one are charged with a federal crime in the Western District of Texas then contact my office to speak with an Austin criminal defense lawyer. In addition to being licensed in our District, I have been practicing criminal law since 1995 and I am Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. I devote my practice to defending the rights of the accused and I will give your case the attention it deserves. Call today. I also serve the cities of Rollingwood, Round Rock, Elgin, Jonestown, Manor, Bee Cave, Lago Vista, Sunset Valley, Lakeway, Creedmoor, Georgetown, Cedar Park, Leander, and San Marcos, Texas.