Witnesses: How Valuable are They?
You might have seen it in the news or watched it in law and order shows – witnesses are always present in trials. They seem to play an important role in criminal cases. Let us have an in-depth understanding of witnesses and why there are valuable.
First and foremost, who can be a witness?
In law, a witness is a person who has relevant information to an event. He or she can either voluntarily or under compulsion, provides oral or written evidence. He or she helps clarify what happened by stating everything they know about an event. A witness must make an oath that they will tell the truth in court. There are special cases wherein witnesses who are under the age of 14 or those who have an intellectual disability can simply promise to tell the truth. The information provided by a witness becomes part of the evidence.
There are two types of witnesses: a. Ordinary and b. Expert. Let’s know the differences between these two:
An ordinary witness is a person who personally heard or saw something about the crime. It can be a police officer who made the arrest of a person who was at the scene of the crime or it can also be passers-by. Ordinary witnesses are bound by oath to answer the lawyers’ questions and tell the judge everything they heard or saw. They, however, do not give opinions about what happened.
An expert witness is a person who has special expertise regarding an element of the crime. It can be a doctor, accountant, psychologist, etc. Expert witnesses are summoned to interpret the facts of a case and to give their expert opinions – for instance, an opinion on the mental state of the accused during the time the crime was committed.
Witness evidence is important when defending a claim as this is where the trial revolves around. This is what normally makes or breaks a defence – especially in a personal injury claim. It is important that there is good interaction with witnesses and that their statements are carefully drafted. The witness statement should be prepared robustly for trial as the defendant will do its best to defeat the claim.
If you or anyone you know has questions regarding witness testimonies or being a witness, you may call our office at 1.855.905.9222.Remember that a witness testimony’s can make or break a defence.