You may already be familiar with what an evidentiary witness is: that’s the person who heard or saw the events in contest. They testify about it after being sworn in on the witness stand. They contribute to whether or not the fact-finder — either a judge or a jury — renders an acquittal. You may also have heard about expert witnesses. These are people who are highly esteemed in their field and a judge has agreed that they can testify in a different manner as to how scientific, etc., things work in relation to facts in the case. Often, different rules apply to such testimony.
But there’s another kind of witness that might be very useful to your case: the character witness. Believe it or not, that witness wasn’t at the scene of the crime! What is their area of expertise? You! In certain circumstances and with certain crimes, your reliability, reputation and indeed, character is at issue. Sometimes, either you have made your ability to tell the truth part of the case or a hostile witness has questioned it. There are crimes where honesty is at the heart of the matter; they are called “crimes of moral turpitude”. These can include theft, forgery, fraud and perjury.
It takes a very experienced attorney to know if you need to bring in character witnesses and if so, how many. You’ll want to be your case to be convincing, not verge into overkill. There isn’t an exact number; factors such as how much your integrity is in question, the relative strength or weakness of other factors in your case and the complexity of the matter at hand will all be part of the equation.
So, who should be your character witness? Most importantly, that person should be someone who knows you and knows you well. They should have an unblemished record themselves. If they are well known, well respected in the community, so much the better. Teachers, preachers, doctors and civic leaders tend to be very helpful as character witnesses. When it comes to selecting and preparing your character witnesses, contact us.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Please contact attorney Kirk Anderson for an initial consultation.