The Role of Witness Testimony as Evidence (Term Paper Sample)
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The Role of Witness Testimony as Evidence, can it be trusted?
Witness is a person or someone who has knowledge about something and depends on whether they have sensed it, saw it or testifying on another witnesses’ behalf. The witness is someone who voluntarily or under compulsion, gives testimonial evidence either oral or written of what he/she understands or claims to understand about something that happened (Brown, A. J, p5). In most cases, witness testimony is always done orally in front of the judges and others in the court of law. The witness gives the testimony by answering or asking questions in the courtroom, depending on the situation.
Witness testimony is the account or order of events a victim narrates in the courtroom or during judgement describing what the individual saw that happened during the specific incident under investigation. The recollection of events by the witness testimony is always detailed and is used as evidence to show what exactly happened from a witness point of view (Brown, A. J, p10). In a layman’s language, witness testimony simply means the formal statement about something, especially the one given in court of law to provide testimony to something which happened before. It gives or provides evidence to something that occurred.
There are several types of witness testimony and different argument on whether witness testimony can be trusted or not (Brown, A. J, p25). Different research has been done explain whether witness testimony can be used as a complete or convincing evidence in court of law during the investigation of certain events. Based on all these research and arguments, this research paper is aimed at explaining in details the roles of witness testimony and whether it can be trusted a full evidence. This paper explains the types of witness testimony in the court of law and different aspects related to it to be trusted.
Types of witness testimony.
From the introductory part of this research paper, witness is a person giving flow of events seen or felt in a past event being investigated. There are different types of witness testimony in criminal cases as proposed by defense attorneys based on different argument. Some give their testimony based on what they saw previously, what they feel or sense or on behalf of other witnesses and others based on what they heard. Witness in the court of law gives important evidence, expert knowledge and character assessment of the defendant. Therefore, these types of witness testimony include; eye witness testimony, expert witness testimony, and character witness testimony. These types of witness testimony are discussed as follows;
* The eye witnesses.
During the criminal trial in the court of law, eye witness is known to provide a strong evidence concerning a criminal offence. The testimony is said to be strong and most people believe that it is true. The witness is an individual who sees or observes an alleged crime in process, as well as perpetrators who participated in events of the crime (Kania, Richard, and Richards P. Davis, p35). Despite the fact that eye witness has a strong impact on a verdict than circumstantial evidence, it is sometimes determined unreliable due to questionable facts. Sometimes there is a case in which several witnesses give a verdict concerning the same criminal case. Under this case, the criminal attorney looks at the consistency in the witness testimony.
* The expert witnesses.
This is another type of witness testimony in the criminal cases in the court of law. This type of witness involves giving professional knowledge concerning a case which is not clearly known by the jury or the judge. The professional knowledge includes giving verdicts on topics which are not well understood in the court of law. Expert witnesses in most cases include psychiatrists and psychologists, therapists, physicians, forensic scientists, and handwriting experts in the provision of testimony to the jury or judge (Kania, Richard, and Richards P. Davis, p40). This testimony in based on proven facts and knowledge. The facts are supported by scientific research, published studies and professional experience. Therefore, this testimony is regarded as the most reliable source of evidence in the court of law.
* The character witnesses.
These types of witness testimony give facts and original assessment of that addresses or describes the defendant’s true characters and features. Character witnesses may include the defendant’s family members, relatives, friends or people who know the defendant really well. They assist the court of law and the judges during criminal case judgement in understanding the history and background of the defendant. They provide the original or historical behaviors of the defendant. Sometimes, when the morality or the honesty of the defendant is in doubt, character witness testimony can be considered valuable. This testimony is in most cases required in cases of robbery, white color crimes, and fraud (Kania, Richard, and Richards P. Davis, p67).
Other than having different types of witness testimony, they are all recognized as witness testimony and are all required to take an oath before the court of law to say the truth or the facts they know about the defendant. Witnesses who provide wrong testimonies are subjected to perjury fines. Some may also face imprisonment for some years. Therefore, witnesses are required to provide true information concerning the defendant to escape such fines.
Witness accounts reliability.
A lot of research has been done in regards to the reliability of witness accounts. In addition to this, much discussion and debates have been made on the same. Witness testimony can be partly meaningful while part of it can be completely meaningless. Not in a way that the witness is perjuring themselves, but more simply their recounting of events is inaccurate (“Witness Management”, p2). Some of the reasons as to why witness testimony may be wrong include; being personal bias, wrong timing of information, wrong description of events or ideas or even some habit incorporate them to perceive or believe they remembered or recalled some information differently than it actually happened in real sense. Another reason also may be due to the fact that the accuracy of witness testimony ceases to be there with the advancement in age. Old people tend to forget or fail to clearly recall what happened in the past. Therefore, they may give false information.
Roles of witness testimony in court of law in criminal cases.
Witnesses perform crucial roles in the court of law by providing the judges or the jury with clarification of what happened in an incident. They have relevant information about a certain crime which was previously committed and is being investigated in the court of law. As discussed earlier, witnesses take an oath before the judges and the jury to provide honest and accurate information which are timely and without being biased. The following are some of the roles of witnesses in the court of law;
* Witnesses have the responsibility to ensure that they interact and get familiar with provisions of Part 35 of the Civil Procedure Rules and the related Practice Direction. This will help the witness to be well prepared in presentation of his or her witness testimony. It also ensures that the report being given is true and accurate. (“Witness Management”, p29).
* Assuming the responsibility to his client to go ahead with his investigations with due care and to ensure they provide opinion evidence that is soundly based. This is in addition to the overriding duty of the witness to the court. The assumption of the responsibility is through timely acceptance of instructions from the court. The witness is therefore required to only perform instructions that he is competent/qualified to carry out and only provide opinions that are within his area of knowledge or which they can testify. The witness is required to explain matters that are beyond their knowledge or expectations without hiding it from the judge or jury.
* They should not ignore any information that may come their way concerning their clients. This will ensure that the evidence of the witness is complete as it is required by the court of law. Therefore, they should not ignore such information.
* Overriding any obligation to the instructing and paying party or parties to the court. The evidence provided the witness to the court should be independent, objective and unbiased. The witness has the responsibility of not being biased in favor of the party to pay his or her fees at the end of the case. The written reports and the oral evidence provided by the witness should be honest and truthful to the facts concerning the case being investigated. They are required to provide an honest opinion and make sure that their reports are complete and reliable.
Witness Credibility Assessment.
Credibility assessment is simply the process of passing a person claiming to be a witness through a test to determine whether truly he or she is a witness to the event. It is a process which involves the collection of important information by the investigator and ascertain to the confidence level of the witness (“Witness Management”, p45). During this process, investigators are able to identify suspects from witnesses. The following are what to look in a witness during witness credibility assessment;
1 Witness profile.
In most cases, witnesses in the community are alway...
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