How Expert Gang Witnesses Are Used in Criminal Defense Cases

Having an expert gang witness testify in your criminal defense case can help you prove your case.

When calling an expert witness to the stand, the word “witness” is a misnomer. This particular person is not testifying to their personal experience that may or may not prove the defendant is guilty; they testify to the inner workings, ethos, and pathology of particular areas in which they are deemed an expert.

What is an expert witness?

An expert witness, although they may or may not have been witness to the charged crime, is accepted by the judge as having expertise due to life experience, education, training, certification, or other skills.

Expert witnesses have become as omnipresent as the judge and jury in criminal defense cases in recent years. There are expert witnesses in forensic toxicology, breath test experts, bullets and ballistics, DNA and gangs.

Before the expert witness is allowed to answer any questions in the trial, they must state their credentials on the record and be qualified as an expert by the court.

What is an expert gang witness?

A person called to weigh in on matters in a criminal defense case involving gangs or gang-related activity has experience studying or living and working within a gang.

Sometimes, former gang members are called to the stand as these types of expert witnesses. At other times, it is a police officer or detective who has worked extensively with gang members, arresting many of them, and solving gang-related crimes.

What does an expert gang witness do?

An expert gang witness can help the jury understand aspects of gang life, history, culture procedures, ethics, initiations, activities and more.

Gangs and gang life has been dramatized, stigmatized, and romanticized by the media for decades. On top of this warped perspective, there are also vast differences between particular gangs and their psychologies. There is even polarity within gangs themselves, as illustrated by the gang MS-13.

The West Coast and East Coast factions of this powerful gang differ in that the East Coast MS-13 members take direction from leadership in El Salvador, whereas the West Coast contingent doesn’t.

The final word

David Lee Windecher is a criminal defense attorney and a qualified expert gang witness with knowledge in the area of criminal street gang culture and activity. His autobiography chronicles his journey from gang life to criminal defense attorney.

As a former member of the Almighty Latin King Nation, he regularly works with current and former gang members, and has a non-profit organization aimed at keeping people out of the criminal justice system.

Having an expert witness testify in your criminal defense case can help you prove your case, but there are pitfalls. Prosecutors will poke holes in your expert witness’ testimony and character, so it’s crucial to hire an expert that has been qualified through the expert witness process.

If you have questions about using gang experts in criminal defense cases, contact the professionals at Windecher Firm.

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