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The Types of Witness Testimony in a Criminal Case

Witnesses are fundamental during a trial. They are persons who testify in court to report specific facts that they know about the case. The statement made by the witness is known as testimony; in a trial, witnesses can testify in different ways. In this blog, you can learn more about the types of testimony witnesses might offer in a criminal case.

What is a criminal case?

A criminal case is a lawsuit filed by the state against someone accused of breaking the criminal law. This case is carried out by a prosecutor, who represents the state, against the defendants. Penalties in criminal cases may involve monetary fines, imprisonment, or both. Only the state can bring criminal charges against people or institutions.

What is a witness?

A witness gives testimony in front of a judge or court. The witness expresses their opinion or knowledge of specific facts about the trial. The witness’s obligation is to tell the truth, and answer the interrogation. Also, if called, a person must attend court as long as they do not have any physical or mental disability that precludes them from testifying.

What is a testimony?

Testimony is one of the different types of evidence that can be shown in a trial. It is a statement given by a witness voluntarily. The validity of the testimony will depend on the credibility of the witness and the evidence presented to validate or refute it.

How many types of witnesses exist?

Witnesses are classified according to their relationship to the facts. Thus, a witness can be:

a) Eyewitness: a witness present at the place of the facts. This person witnesses some of the facts of the trial.

b) Material: a witness who was not at the place or time of the facts but obtained the information indirectly. Generally, the person hears something, or someone else informs them about the facts.

In a trial, the eyewitness is more important than the material witness because they were present at the time of the facts.

Also, witnesses can be classified as:

a) Experts. They are those who provide professional opinions on the evidence of the case. An expert witness must be a highly qualified professional. Due to the wide variety of cases, different types of experts may participate in the trial, such as Medical, Financial, or Electrical Expert

b) Character witness. These witnesses offer information on the accused’s character and behavior. They are usually family or somebody linked to the accused. Their evidence is valuable when the accused’s morals or honesty is questioned, like in theft and fraud.

c) Celebrity witness Is a well-known individual with a link to the case’s topic. The celebrity must have a real relationship with the case’s subject matter and an excellent public reputation so that their testimony is valid and well-received by the court.

What are the types of testimony that a witness can present?

The types of testimony are classified according to who presents the testimony:

a) Expert testimony. This is the testimony given by a specialist in the subject matter. In a trial, the judge or the lawyers may consult an expert to give their opinion on the evidence in the case. The expert’s testimony considerably influences the judge’s decision since it is based on the expert’s professional experience.

b) Lay testimony. This testimony can be given by any person who has information about the case. Contrary to expert testimony, this testimony is not based on professional or scientific knowledge. It is only limited to providing their perception of the case. In many courts, any competent person can be a lay witness unless proven otherwise.

c) Prestige or celebrity testimony. This is testimony presented by someone famous but not an expert on the theme case. Generally, this type of testimony is used to create interest in the trial even though their testimony may not significantly impact the judge’s decision.


The presence of witnesses in a criminal case is essential to clarify the facts. The jury and the judge use their testimony to determine the outcome of a trial. Thus, planning the type of witness your case needs is crucial. In general, the presence of an expert witness significantly contributes to the case. Due to their experience, they can analyze the evidence in the case and determine the cause of the conflict.

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by Sushree Swagatika
  1. Hi, thanks a lot for this informative article! Do you know of any papers in legal theory that classify the different types of witnesses?

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