Self Defense Experts In Trial

Expert witnesses can be extremely valuable witnesses when proving a self-defense case in trial. There 3 types of experts that are typically called by the defense.

1. Psychologist or Psychiatrist may be called to testify about the defendants’ psychological history and give opinions as to why the defendant  used force. For example a psychologist could testify to “battered woman syndrome” to explain why a woman shot her abusive husband.

2. Deadly Force Expert. You often see these types of experts when a police officer is on trial for murder. The experts can testify how quickly a deadly assault can occur and how officers are trained to shoot. For example deadly force experts have been called to demonstrate how quickly a person armed with a knife can inflict a deadly wound.

3. Medical Examiners. Medical examiners can often give favorable testimony regarding defensive wounds on the defendant. They can also sometimes collaborate a defendant’s story of how wounds were inflicted. It is important to meet with the medical examiner before trial and go over these points.

If the criminal attorney is going to use experts she must take the time to research the law and prepare to fight the prosecution on the admissibility of the experts testimony. Prosecutors don’t like experts testifying for the defense in these cases and will fight to keep them off the stand. Judges are not used to seeing experts called by the defense and the criminal lawyer should be prepared to present the judge case law to persuade the judge to allow the expert. If the judge refuses to allow the defense expert to testify then the criminal lawyer should make a record the record is clear as to what the expert would testify to and the reasons the court should allow the testimony.

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