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Forensic Evidence in Maryland Federal Criminal Cases 

Forensic evidence can play an instrumental role in the state’s case, which is why it is important to work with a federal criminal attorney if you face federal charges. A defense attorney has different ways to challenge forensic evidence in Maryland federal criminal cases presented by the prosecution.

One way is to undermine the credibility of the witness offering the evidence. Another way is to argue that the evidence is not relevant or has a different significance than what the prosecution offers.  The defense attorney may hire their own expert to offer a contrasting opinion. If you want to know more about the impact forensic evidence could have on your case, speak with an adept federal defense attorney that could advocate for you.

Role of Expert Witnesses

Usually, forensic evidence in Maryland federal criminal cases is introduced by an expert witness.  For example, a government lab technician might analyze a piece of evidence and determine it is an illegal substance. A person with a background or expertise in accounting could testify and explain a complicated financial transaction.

Questioning the Credibility of Expert Witness Testimony

A defense attorney might attack the credibility of an expert witness and offer reasons to the judge or the jury as to why the expert is not reliable or should not be trusted. There are different ways to do that. The defense attorney can challenge the witness’s background and credentials. The attorney might suggest that the expert is not qualified to testify about the subject material at hand.

Biased Witness Testimony

Sometimes, the defense attorney learns that the witness has testified in dozens of trials and always delivers an opinion that is supportive of the prosecution’s case. While that does not necessarily mean that their analysis is inherently wrong, it could be evidence of bias or a less than neutral analysis. That is important information to provide to the judge or the jury. Something in the witness’s background could reveal bias. Perhaps they have a long-standing relationship with law enforcement or with the prosecution office handling the case. There might be a family or personal connection.

The judge determines information the defense can use to attack the credibility of a witness and may at some point say the information is not entirely relevant. If the defense attorney can successfully undermine the credibility of a witness or the government’s expert, they can challenge the reliability of their opinion.

Challenging the Significance of Evidence

Another way to address the forensic evidence in Maryland federal criminal cases offered against defendants is to argue that the evidence is not important or is not important in the way the government describes.  For example, the government may introduce DNA evidence attributed to the defendant that was found at the scene of the crime.  The defense attorney may offer an alternative, innocent explanation as to why the DNA was found in this location.  Rather than challenging the validity or the reliability of the DNA analysis, the attorney is attempting to challenge the relevance of the DNA evidence itself.

Battle of the Experts

The defense attorney might also use an expert witness when building the defense. They may do that regardless of whether the government has an expert witness because they want to understand the material involved. An expert in the field may be able to review and help the defense understand the evidence when the case is technical with forensic evidence, or involves narcotics, DNA analysis, or complicated chemical analysis.  If the government presents an expert witness whose analysis and conclusions support the government’s theory of the case, the defense expert may come to a very different conclusion.  In this case, the defense might have their expert testify at trial.

This is usually referred to as a battle of the experts. Each side has their expert offering an opinion about what the evidence means and the significance relative to the matter at hand. The defense attorney tries to get the judge or jury to come around to their point of view and agree with the defense expert. When there is a conflict between the experts, this could be evidence itself that the issue is not settled and there can be one conclusive determination on the issue at hand. If the experts with careers in the field cannot come to a conclusive determination about the issue, that shows the jury that there is doubt. In a criminal trial, when the jury must be convinced of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt to convict someone, even if they are not convinced 100 percent by the defense expert, the conflict reveals that there is doubt and could be a factor leading to an eventual acquittal. If an individual wants to know more about forensic evidence in Maryland federal criminal cases and how expert witnesses can help, they could speak with a skilled defense attorney that could answer their questions.