If you’re a fan of TV shows like Law & Order or Matlock, you might be wondering what goes on behind the closed doors of a courtroom when a trial is in session. You might see several types of witnesses called to the stand, including:
1. The Expert Witness
An expert witness is an individual who is a specialist in a particular area such as medicine, finance, or biology. An expert witness in the psychiatric field might testify as to the defendant’s state of mental health. An expert witness finance might give information about the stock market or other workings of the financial world that laypeople would not readily know.
2. The Character Witness
You don’t have to be a specialist in a particular subject to be a character witness, but you do have to have intimate knowledge about one particular subject: the defendant. If you’re asked to be a character witness, you might be asked to provide examples of the defendant’s good qualities, speak of how long you’ve known them, and give an assessment of their personality from your perspective as their close friend or family member.
3. The Lay Witness
If you’ve watched any kind of court proceedings on TV, you might be most familiar with this type of witness. The lay witness can be anybody who witnessed the event(s) taking place and is willing to provide an eyewitness testimony detailing what they remember. Lay witnesses are extremely important in courtroom proceedings to gather detailed accounts of events that took place in public areas.
There are other types of legal witnesses, but these three are the most common. If you’re testifying in a courtroom, or if you’re just interested in who’s who on your favorite legal TV show, you’ll be prepared to tell apart the different types of courtroom witnesses.