Just like investigators, experts can be crucial in proving the fact that you acted in self defense. An expert is someone who is permitted to testify at a trial because of special knowledge or proficiency in a particular field that is relevant to the case. Experts used in a deadly force incident should be certified in their particular field through the courts or through a professional association or organization. Experts who have been certified through the courts have gone through rigorous examination and cross examinations to obtain a certified status. One friend of mine, who is a court certified use of force expert told me recently, “I love testifying in court, but when I was certified as an expert, it was the worst experience I had ever had on the stand in any court.” Certainly, those experts who are court certified will most likely work at higher rates than those who are not.
Now is a good time to mention the old saying “if you buy cheap, you pay twice”. This can easily be the case with both investigators and experts. If your freedom is on the line in a murder or manslaughter case, these are two areas that you don’t want to shop for the lowest price. CCW Safe members involved in such cases have the best attorneys, investigators and experts for their cases. Better to spend the money up front to avoid pitfalls later, and that is the thinking of CCW Safe.
Experts in a shooting or deadly force case may include:
- Firearms and Toolmarks Examiners- These experts testify to ballistic evidence, and may look at things such as distance determination, stippling, gunshot residue, and compare ballistic evidence, such as bullets, cartridges, casings, and firearms. They may also testify to edged weapons or other weapons that might be used in a self defense case.
Crime Scene Experts- These experts can testify to the chain of custody of evidence, the preservation of evidence, trajectory, and layout of the crime scene.
Use of Force Experts- These experts will testify to the use of force in the case, their opinions on whether or not the force was justified and reasonable. Use of force experts generally have a great deal of experience in investigating self defense cases, and/or certified trainers of self defense and use of force for police departments and other agencies.
Blood splatter Experts- These experts can testify on the use of force as it relates to the splattering of blood. Blood splatter experts can look at the blood evidence and give their opinion on what force was used and the direction of the force.
Any of these experts could be instrumental in explaining to the jury the force that was used in a shooting or deadly force case, and whether that force was justified and reasonable. And, any given case may have the need for not just one expert, but for several. For example, a case where a bat, pipe or other instrument was used in self defense may require the need for a use of force expert, a crime scene expert, and a blood splatter expert to effectively make a self defense case to the jury.
Experts can cost a wide range depending upon what all they review in the case, and whether or not they testify in the trial. $20k is certainly a reasonable amount to be allocated for experts, if not more. $20k added to the already $35k to $159k out of pocket expenses on other plans, you are now sitting at $55k minimum out of pocket expenses with any other plan out there. On the high end, you could be as high as $179k out of pocket.
Next week we will follow up and complete this series of articles with trial exhibits, jury consultants, social media consultants, and other trial related expenses.