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Testifying as a Law Enforcement Professional - Research Paper Example

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Law enforcement officers and professional witness provide services within the legal system. They are called to testify to the information they have knowledge, or to give a professional opinion on questions on factors affecting the outcome of the outcome of a case…
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Download file to see previous pages The testimony of any investigator or professional should be confined to the scope of expertise of that person as demonstrated by experience, training and education. The extent of the experience, training and education needed to testify is determined by the legal authority in which the professional witness is testifying. It is also permissible for an investigator and professional to render an expert opinion (Kleinig and Zhang, 1993, p. 19). A testimony serves to prove a point or element of the case against a defendant. A professional witness or law enforcement officer should never underestimate their role in establishing a defendant’s guilt. Establishing a defendant’s guilt is based upon the strength and totality of the evidence presented. If the evidence is not convincing, then a jury or judge must acquit the defendant, but if powerful pieces of evidence are present, then it can lead to conviction of the defendant. Only witnesses having firsthand knowledge of the important facts of a case are allowed to testify at a trial. However, their testimony is restricted to their personal knowledge. This is what they personally know about the victim or defendant. Thus, a person who witnesses an accident and the first law enforcement officers to be at the scene have personal knowledge of the occurrence leading to the case and are likely to be summoned to testify about what they witnessed. A professional witness, on the other hand, gives a professional opinion on a case. Professional witnesses are involved in a case when technical, specialized or scientific knowledge is required to establish a fact that is controversial. A witness may be qualified as an expert by education, training, skill, experience, or knowledge. The witness may, therefore, testify basing his or her on the evidence he or she gathers (Kleinig and Zhang, 1993, p. 25). A law enforcement officer has a responsibility as a professional witness. The law enforcement officer has a crucial role in the successful conviction of a criminal. Therefore, the officer must determine whether the evidence established is sufficient enough to proceed with a trial. It is the duty of the officer to make sure all relevant and appropriate evidence comes to light. The enforcement officer must fully record all visual, sensory and verbal observation, know what to listen and look for and be motivated to apply their skills and knowledge to aid him or her in succeeding in the trial. It is fundamental for a law enforcement officer to prepare as a professional witness before trial. The officer should recognize relevant and significant evidence and document it in field notes. The notes should be compiled, and a complete and accurate report should be written. Prior to the testimony, the officer should review the case file, mentally organizing the facts of the offense and evidence supporting it. The officer should also organize clearly and convincingly the testimony to be presented to the jury. Once the officer is notified of the trial date, the officer should review all reports and records. He should also compare notes with other officers, revisit the scene if required, discuss with the prosecutor the details of the testimony and the case, and make sure copies of all required documents by law in his or her jurisdiction have been given to the prosecutor (Kleinig and Zhang, 1993, p. 59). A law enforcement officer should dress professionally and neatly. Uniformed officers are preferred to wear their uniform. One should wear pants and a jacket if he or she is on civilian clothes. Flashlights, sunglasses and other cumbersome equipment should not be taken into the courtroom, unless they are needed for demonstration (Kleinig and Zhan ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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