Defense Experts and Investigators

In some criminal defense cases, it is essential that you retain an expert to assist in the preparation of your case.

Any issue that arises in your case that is technical, medical, or otherwise not within the common knowledge of a jury can be explained by an expert in that field. When your case depends on an issue that requires expert testimony, like a faulty eyewitness identification, the credibility and quality of your expert witness may be the deciding factor at your trial.

When Do You Need an Expert Witness in a Criminal Case?

Expert witnesses can be used, and sometimes must be used, for a wide range of issues that can arise in any criminal case, large or small. Some common examples include:

  • DUI defense: Expert witnesses may be used to explain to the jurors how the officer did not properly conduct the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs), how an error in the Datamaster (breathalyzer) machine can result in a false result, or the effects that a certain level of drugs in a person’s system has on their ability to drive;
  • Eyewitness identifications: There are several issues that can arise from eyewitness identifications, including the problems with cross-racial identifications or suggestive lineups;
  • Forensic evaluations: When the court orders a competency or criminal responsibility evaluation, the state will conduct an evaluation but the defendant will also need to have an independent evaluation done;
  • False confessions: People don’t confess to crimes they didn’t commit. Or do they? If investigators used psychologically coercive tactics to obtain an incriminating statement, an expert witness can explain to jurors why an innocent person would confess to a crime they did not commit when that person is interrogated in a certain way;
  • Murder cases: Some murder cases require experts in crime scene analysis to assist in analyzing the State’s ballistics results, gunshot residue (GSR) tests, footwear impressions, fingerprint comparisons, or other forensic evidence;
  • Drug cases: An expert dog trainer can testify as to how the K-9 officer was signaling his dog to alert on the car, or a chemist may be needed to test or weigh the drugs;
  • DNA experts: Independent DNA labs assist with interpreting the government lab’s results and conducting independent tests of DNA collected from the crime scene or suspects; and
  • Doctors: Expert medical testimony may be needed from a range of specialists to interpret medical records, autopsy results, or rape trauma kits.

The list of possible situations where an expert may be needed would be endless. Any issue that requires technical expertise justifies retaining an expert. Some issues, like the need for a forensic evaluation, require the use of experts.

When Should I Use a Private Investigator in a Criminal Case?

Most cases would absolutely benefit from the use of a defense investigator. There are, however, some situations where it is necessary to provide an effective defense. These include:

  • There are a large number of witnesses;
  • There are witnesses who are difficult to find or hostile;
  • You need to do surveillance on a person;
  • You need photographs or video to use as evidence at trial; or
  • You need an expert in online sleuthing to identify individuals or gather evidence.  

Like with expert witnesses, the list of possible situations where you may need the services of a private criminal defense investigator are endless and sometimes unanticipated.

SC Criminal Defense Firm in Columbia, Lexington, and Myrtle Beach

Lacey Thompson accepts only criminal defense cases. When we see an issue in your case that requires an expert witness or a defense investigator we will let you know immediately – we have a range of experts and investigators available who can assist with any issue that arises in your case.

If you have questions about whether you need an expert witness or private defense investigator in your case and you have not yet retained a defense lawyer, call the Thompson Defense Firm now at 843-444-6122 or contact us online to find out what your options are and how we can help.