When facing criminal charges, you want to be sure to use every strategy and resource available in your defense when it comes time to take your case to court. In the majority of cases, witness testimony plays an important and often crucial role. A witness is more than just a person who actually saw a crime being committed. Witnesses on your behalf can corroborate your account of what happened, can offer an alibi for where you were when the crime was committed, and can testify to your attitude, accomplishments, and any other details which could be potentially defend you against your charges. In order to provide a strong legal defense against criminal charges, it is not only important to locate any potential witnesses, but also to ensure the court hears their testimony when it comes time for trial.
Types of Witnesses
Once you have been charged with a crime and a court date has been set, the process of uncovering evidence both against you and in your favor will begin. This process is called discovery, and the driving motivation behind discovery is ensuring that once you are in court, you have the best and strongest legal defense possible. In terms of discovery, identifying, locating, and obtaining the testimony of witnesses in your case is often the first and most important step. The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) advises that there are three main types of witnesses in criminal cases that could potentially help you when it comes time for trial:
- Lay witnesses: Otherwise known as eyewitnesses, these are people who may have actually witnessed the crime and can provide testimony as far as what he or she saw.
- Expert witnesses: These witnesses may be doctors, forensic specialists, therapists, or anyone else with specialized knowledge. An expert witness can provide testimony on your physical or emotional state, the logistics or any weapons used in the crime, and specialized information on specific details about the crime.
- Character witnesses: This type of witness can provide information about you or anyone involved in your case. A character witness can testify regarding your strengths and character, the type of person you are in everyday life, and may be able to impute the character of those who testifies against you. A character witness may also be able to provide an alibi placing you elsewhere when the crime occurred, or can provide information on your activities for the times both before and after the crime you are accused of was committed.
Obtaining Witness Testimony
Witness testimony is often obtained through a deposition. Under Rule 30 of the South Carolina Rules of Criminal Procedure, a deposition allows witness testimony to be taken prior to trial through an oral examination. This is often held in your attorney’s office, and the witness will be summoned to appear, sworn in, and questioned as to their knowledge of and about the crime or the people involved in the case. Their testimony may be recorded in writing or on audio or video tape, and the statements made can be used at trial. A witness who refuses to testify may be subpoenaed, a written order requiring the witness to appear. Failing to respond to the subpoena will result in contempt of court charges resulting in fines and potential jail time.
Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Today
If you or someone you love is facing criminal charges, contact an experienced South Carolina criminal defense attorney today at David R. Price, Jr., P.A.. Greenville attorneys David R. Price Jr. and Sam Tooker provide aggressive legal representation while ensuring your rights are protected. Our office has the legal experience you need in handling all types of serious criminal matters, and can strategize the best course of defense in your particular case. Our office serves all of upstate South Carolina, so call us today at (864) 271-2636 for a free consultation.
David Price is a Personal Injury, Civil Litigation, Collections, and Criminal Defense Attorney who practices in Greenville, SC. He graduated from the University of Georgia School of Law, and has been practicing law for 12 years. David Price believes in helping those who have been injured. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.