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How do you qualify an expert witness?

When facing criminal charges in Columbus, it is easy to feel as though the deck is stacked against you. Prosecuting attorneys often have a wealth of resources at their disposal, including professionals who are qualified as experts in fields related to your case. Such expert testimony can often be very convincing, as well as difficult to counter with only a lay person's knowledgeable of the subject matter. Fortunately, the law does provide a method through which you can present expert testimony on your own behalf. 

The trouble is, however, that simply claiming the someone is an expert in a particular area does not qualify them as such. Rather, an expert witness must first be qualified before his or her testimony can be viewed as expert opinion. According to the Ohio Supreme Court's Rules of Evidence, expert testimony must meet the following criteria: 

  • The testimony offered by the expert either relates to matters beyond a lay person's typical knowledge of the subject matter or dispels a common misconception related to the subject matter
  • The witness' specialized knowledge, skill, experience, training and/or education qualifies him or her as expert
  • The witness' testimony is supported by reliable scientific, technical or specialized knowledge

Specifically in regards to the third qualification, the knowledge supporting an expert's testimony must be verifiable through proven facts, principles or tests. You can use this particular provision to this criteria to not only support the validity of your own expert's opinion, but also to potentially challenge that of any expert witnesses who may be testifying against you. 

If a proposed expert witness fails to meet the qualification standards set by court, he or she is limited to only offering opinions and inferences based on his or her own point of view.  

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