How Many Types of Witnesses Are There?

When it comes to proving the guilt or innocence of any party within a legal case, whether it’s civil or criminal, witnesses are absolutely crucial to how each verdict plays out.

This is why it’s so important for legal teams to closely consider who they put on the stand to offer a witness testimony. Each witness must be carefully screened and assessed to ensure they help to achieve the best outcome for a case, rather than jeopardize it.

Here are the most common types of witnesses you can expect if you’re faced with litigation and time in court.

Three Types of Witnesses That Can Make or Break a Case

Let’s say you were recently injured in a car accident. You’re looking to file a case against the negligent driver who hit you but need someone who was at the scene to bolster your case of negligence. This is a basic definition of what a witness is and how they can benefit your legal standing.

Keep in mind that when meeting with your attorney, they will generally go over three different types of witnesses that could help to build a strong case:

  1. An Eye-Witness

As the name suggests, this type of witness is a person who saw an event take place that is relevant to a legal case. They are important in both civil and criminal cases and can be cross-examined by both legal parties for the defense and prosecution.

Eye-witnesses are sworn in when they take the stand. They must take an oath to tell the truth before a court of law, which basically means that they have to describe events exactly as they saw them, in an unbiased, completely objective manner.

Eye-witness evidence is all about the facts of what they saw, rather than assumptions.

  1. An Expert Witness

An expert witness is a person that holds a specific type of knowledge on a specific topic(s). They can be called to offer expert witness testimony by both the defense and prosecution.

An example of an expert witness is a coroner who may give evidence on the state of a person’s body during a murder trial. Or, a doctor to give an opinion on the state of a person’s injuries, etc.

An expert witnesses’ opinion is accepted as evidence. This is because they are considered an expert in their field, while the rest of the court does not hold enough of the same knowledge to form a reliable opinion on facts.

  1. A Character Witness

A character witness is a person that offers testimony in a number of different situations.

Some of these include evidence on the character of an accused person in a criminal case. They may also offer character evidence of a person already convicted of a crime. Or, they may testify to character evidence of a person in a civil trial, such as a defamation case.

Why is character evidence so important? So that the jury can get some insight into what an accused person is really like. A character witness can be cross-examined by both the defense and prosecution.

All the Legal Advice You Need, at Your Fingertips

All of the above-mentioned types of witnesses are the lifeline of any legal case. They hold immense power and should always be appropriately assessed and cross-examined by any legal team in order to make a real difference to a trial verdict.

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