This is the next post in my series on the handling of federal criminal charges brought in the Central District of Illinois. My last article discussed the process of handling federal charges. It is important to understand that the rules are strictly adhered to in Federal Court. This means that deadlines must be met or the ability to mount a proper defense may be hindered. Retaining a licensed and qualified attorney is, therefore, vital. In this article I will discuss the use of expert witnesses in federal cases. The use of such experts can be crucial in highly complex matters. If you or a family member are in need of assistance then contact my office today to speak with a Peoria federal defense lawyer.
Federal Courts follow the Daubert standard in regard to the admission of expert testimony. Under this rule, an individual may testify as an expert if they possess specialized knowledge, training, education, or skills which assist them in explaining issues not generally understood by a layperson. In cases involving complex financial crimes, complex fraud, computer hacking, or other such matters, it is often necessary to call expert witnesses to determine whether or not a crime occurred. The Judge will determine whether or not an individual should be considered an “expert” before allowing them to testify before the jury. The jury will decide what weight, if any, should be assigned to an expert’s testimony and/or opinions.
The foregoing concepts are best explained by way of example. Suppose an individual is charged with committing financial fraud after having made false claims to potential investors. The federal government claims that, in fact, no investments had been made and the defendant was collecting large fees. The prosecution may call a finance expert to offer testimony as to how such schemes are typically run. The defendant, however, may then call an expert who can explain that investment vehicles vary and the fact that money had not yet been put into assets does not necessarily mean that there was criminal activity. It may simply be a situation where the right investment opportunity had yet to come along and such was the reason why money had not been deployed. The jury will hear the testimony from both experts and the jurors may choose to believe either, or neither, of the experts.
If a defendant does not have the resources to retain an expert then it is possible for counsel to Petition the Court for funds to do so. The federal government can issue funds to an accused individual for the use of an expert, even if they have a private attorney. In making such a decision, the Court will analyze the defendant’s finances and determine whether the standards for the issuing of funds are met.
It is also important to retain an attorney who is experienced in questioning experts and presenting their testimony to the jury. Again, such testimony will revolve around highly complex issues. If it is not presented to the jury in a way that is clear, concise, and understandable, then the point may be lost on the jurors. If the defense is highly reliant on the testimony then this can be devastating for the accused. I am a Peoria federal defense lawyer who practices in the Central District of Illinois. I am experienced in dealing with expert witnesses and my office will work to ensure that the best possible defense is put forward on your behalf. If you or a family member are in need of assistance then contact us online or by telephone today.
I also handle state level offenses in the Illinois counties of Fulton, Knox, LaSalle, Marshall, Mason, McLean, Putnam, Rock Island, Schuyler, Stark, Tazewell, and Woodford.