Forensic, General & Medical
Expert Witnesses

What Police Expert Witnesses May Testify About


Police expert witnesses in the courtroom usually are capable of providing testimony about a number of issues, but the topics they are able to discuss are limited to experience and educational background to remain reliable and relevant to the subject matter. Knowing the limitations is important for the lawyer and the officer hired for this job.

Police officers as expert witnesses are usually only able to provide testimony about law enforcement matters, but many officers are not the expert about details of legal issues, laws or administrative police management. The testifying officer is able to provide corroboration about the arrest and information containing observations about the situation. He or she may also explain what happened and how it pertains to an illegal action. Guilt is not usually something the officer may state based on the entitlement to a fair trial in the courtroom with a lawyer. However, police officers may give observations and confirm evidence.

The Arrest

Some officers are able to explain the arrest of the accused individual through the direct connection as the arresting officer. Other members of the police force are able to explain video and procedure. If the officer needed to draw his or her gun, the expert witness would give testimony about why and how it affects the attempted or supposed crime. Other officers are special agents investigating certain matters and may explain the evidence, how fingerprints and DNA connect certain individuals to the crime scene. Others expose the person through video or audio surveillance. Testifying in the courtroom may remove confusion about these matters.

Police Matters

There are specific police matters that are relevant in the courtroom for various criminal or civil cases. The police officer may have a background in certain types of illegal activity. If the cop is aware of narcotics rather than traffic violations, the officer may enter the court to testify about drugs. However, if the law enforcement agent is undercover about illegal smuggling rings with illegal immigrants for prostitution, he or she would testify about these matters rather than drugs. The more specific the subject for the cop, the greater he or she may explain the subject material. This is crucial for certain criminal cases.

If the officer is part of a civil matter, he or she may need to explain what type of injuries to expect with weapons or how drugs could harm the system. While a medical professional could corroborate these matters, the police officer would have first-hand experience with the injuries that happen either in process or when an arrest is made. Additional claims may provide an officer the chance to give an opinion on a related matter that explains to the judge or jury what he or she thinks about the issue. This could remain admissible if it is relevant to the claim.

Related Matters

When the officer becomes the expert witness, he or she may testify about numerous items that relate to police arrests, evidence, processes and a specific background. However, related matters are also available for questioning. The lawyer may need to explain that the officer is not an expert in the field but has knowledge and experience with the subject matter. This could involve the investigation, connections to insurance carriers, who manufactures which weapons and how money processes with laundering and through companies. Most of these officers will testify in a criminal court to help the prosecution convict the defendant of a crime and give opinions about the perpetrator or the related factors of the criminal activity.

The opinion of the officer may provide insight into various police processes and the arrest. The law enforcement agency must provide Miranda Rights to the accused before questioning. The officer may explain how this procedure works and when police do not need to speak these words. Other related matters may include due process and how weapons’ involvement could escalate a crime. It is important to remain on topic and only ask questions that are relevant to law enforcement to ensure the testimony is admissible.

The Cop as the Expert Witness

The officer questioned in the courtroom as an expert witness must provide opinions and fact-based details about the case. He or she should refrain from speaking on matters of guilt or innocence. By talking about items that are not relevant or that a reliable officer could explain, he or she could give inadmissible testimony stricken from the record. The lawyer may need to guide the questions to avoid this.


Provided by HG.org

Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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