The court expert
What is a court expert and what is his/her role?
A court expert is a person who, because of his/her expert knowledge, is capable of ascertaining facts which are relevant as evidence, or of deriving and corroborating legally relevant conclusions from such facts.

Court experts are usually called in for proceedings if expert knowledge which the prosecution officials do not have is required to assess a matter.
Court experts become active only on appointment, with both the public prosecutor during the investigative proceedings and the court during the trial being allowed to order the appointment of a court expert.

In criminal proceedings, the expert opinion drafted by a court expert following his/her appointment is key evidence similar to a witness testimony.
Court experts are usually called to assess medical questions, such as establishing the cause or time of a person’s death. Medical court experts also assess whether an offender was of sound mind when committing the crime.

How do you become a court expert?
Persons who are inscribed in the list of court experts are to be appointed preferentially.
The register of court experts contains all sworn and certified court experts listed by numerous professional groups and subgroups (e.g. medicine – neurology, automotive, graphology, etc.).
The offender must be informed of the appointment of a court expert and may raise objections against the person of the court expert within one week at the latest.

How does the court expert know what to do?
When appointing a court expert, the public prosecutor or the court must state concrete questions which the court expert is to answer in the expert opinion. He/she will be given a deadline by which the opinion or report is to be delivered.

What are the duties of a court expert?
The court expert must present his/her opinion or report according to the best of his/her knowledge and belief and according to the state of the art. He/she must comply with the summons by the public prosecutor and the court and answer questions during hearings, examinations or crime reconstructions.
Court experts are bound by official secrecy.

How is a court expert remunerated?
Court experts are entitled to a fee for preparing their opinion or report. They may also command fees for attending examinations, hearings or crime reconstructions.