WomensLaw serves and supports all survivors, no matter their sex or gender.

Legal Information

Before the Trial

View all

What are expert witnesses?

An expert witness is someone with specialized skills, knowledge, or experience who testifies in court about what s/he believes has happened in a certain case based on those specialized skills, knowledge, or experience. Unlike any other witnesses who can only testify about what they have seen, felt, heard, smelled, touched, etc., expert witnesses can draw conclusions and give their opinions as part of their testimony.

Experts can be useful in cases that involve domestic violence. For example, a psychologist may be called as an expert witness to explain why an abused partner did not leave an abuser and otherwise acted in ways that might not make sense to a judge who doesn’t have any experience with domestic violence issues. Experts do not need to be academic in nature, you may be able to call a mechanic to explain what happens if sugar is put into a gas tank, or you could call a domestic violence professional to talk about the dynamics of domestic violence.

If a party is going to use an expert witness, s/he usually has to give to the other party the expert’s contact information and what subject the expert will be testifying about. This information is necessary so the opposing side can begin researching the expert with an eye towards trying to show that the person is not actually an expert and should not be allowed to reach any conclusions in the case. In some cases, both sides will use expert witnesses who may even reach different conclusions. It can be important to know how qualified each expert is so that an argument can be made as to which expert’s testimony should be believed (credited) by the judge or jury.