What is a Security Expert Witness?

T. Webster

Security expert witnesses provide research and testimony for litigation and criminal court cases. Some also work as consultants, designing programs for crime prevention, security and how to avoid workplace violence. When working as consultants, they often assess risks and offer guidance on how to avoid losses.

A security expert witness can be employed by a plaintiff or defendant to testify in court.
A security expert witness can be employed by a plaintiff or defendant to testify in court.

In the legal arena, a security expert witness can be employed either by a plaintiff or by a defendant. A plaintiff might use a security expert witness to demonstrate negligence, for example. By contrast, a defendant that is being sued might hire a security expert witness to testify that appropriate security was in place.

Typical clients include attorneys, law firms, judges, insurance companies and government agencies. Security expert witnesses can work locally, regionally or nationally. The scope of the work they perform work depends on their areas of expertise and their clientele.

Security expert witnesses can even specialize in a certain area, such as banking or investing. In banking, they might provide testimony on fraud, money laundering, robberies or building security. Corporate fraud is another area where a security expert witness might be called in to testify.

Some security expert witnesses become certified in order to demonstrate their knowledge and competency. Generally, these certifications are done by private companies. Certification typically requires having a certain number of years of experience in a security profession, having a degree in a related field and passing an exam. A clean criminal record with no prior convictions is another common requirement.

A significant level of experience is required to become a security expert witness. A security guard or a uniformed police officer likely will not qualify unless they have other skills, training and experience. Ideally, a security expert witness will have a background in designing, managing or evaluating security systems and equipment. Supervisory experience or professional teaching experience in a security-related field also are considered desirable.

Other qualifications that are considered include how many times a security expert witness has testified in court. Some might specialize in working for law firms that represent only the plaintiffs or only the defense. Other security expert witnesses will work on either side of a court case.

The specific scope of work can include research and testimony for equipment, loss prevention and even matters concerning security guards. Security guards might become involved in litigation or criminal cases if they are accused of making a false arrest, are accused of negligence or are accused of racial profiling. Negligence in the hiring and training of security guards is another area that a security expert witness might address.

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