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Qualifying expert witnesses in Virginia criminal cases- Fairfax lawyer

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Qualifying expert witnesses in Virginia criminal cases- Fairfax lawyer

Qualifying expert witnesses in Virginia criminal cases- Fairfax lawyer

Qualifying experts for Virginia criminal cases- Fairfax lawyer

Qualifying a proposed expert witness for a Virginia criminal trial both rests in the sound discretion of the trial judge, for starters. As a Fairfax criminal lawyer, I also know that qualifying an expert witness for a criminal trial requires the following: If scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue, a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education may testify thereto in the form of an opinion or otherwise, if the court finds that the subject matter is beyond the knowledge and experience of ordinary persons, such that the factfinder needs expert opinion in order to comprehend the subject matter, form an intelligent opinion, and draw its conclusions. Va. R. Evid. 2:702(a); Wakeman v. Virginia, __ Va. App. __ (Nov. 27, 2018).

Virginia criminal attorney on when to allow a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE Nurse) to testify as an expert

If the trial allegations against Patrick Joseph Wakeman are true, his actions that led to his conviction for rape are beyond deplorable and nauseating. I say this even as a criminal defense lawyer knowing I am on the side of the angels in my work. Wakeman was convicted by a jury for raping his children’s sixteen-year-old babysitter while demonstrating to her what a rapist would try to do to her and instructing her to fend off his rape of her. When his victim started crying, Wakeman “pulled his pants up and said ‘oh sh*t . . . if you ever tell the cops that this . . . how I taught you, I could go to jail for twenty (20) years”… ‘ I’m going to eat a bullet now.'” Wakeman. Wakmen would have been lucky to have gotten twenty years compared to the life sentence recommended by the jury and approved by his trial judge in Shenandoah County.

Fairfax criminal attorney on difference between fact testimony and proferred expert testimony from the same witness

Wakeman appealed on the sole claim that SANE nurse Balciunas (who collected DNA from the victim that matched Wakeman’s) “should not have been accepted as an expert, and therefore, the evidence offered during her testimony should have been excluded.” Of course, Wakeman wisely points out that granting such relief would not have precluded her fact witness testimony other than Wakeman’s argument that accepting Balciunas as an expert bolstered her overall testimony.

The Virginia Court of Appeals rejects Wakeman’s challenge that Balciunas never took a SANE certification exam, because neither the Virginia expert witness evidentiary rule nor any other provision of the Virginia code require such a level of certification to qualify a proferred SANE expert . Wakeman. 

As a Fairfax criminal lawyer, I see barely any chance for Wakeman to prevail if he obtains appellate review in the Virginia Supreme Court.

Fairfax criminal lawyer Jonathan L. Katz pursues your best defense against felony, misdemeanor, drug, and DUI/DWI prosecutions. To discuss your case with Jon Katz, please call his staff at 703-383-1100 to schedule a confidential consultation. 


  1. Rudolph on September 13, 2019 at 12:43 pm

    I looked this up and it looks like the Virginia Supreme Court did grant him his appeal. What does that mean? Does he get a retrial? or get a new sentencing?

    • Jon Katz on September 15, 2019 at 6:33 pm

      A Westlaw check shows no Virginia Supreme Court opinion in this Wakeman case. If the Va. Supreme Court granted leave to appeal, the possible relief depends on the scope of the leave to appeal that was granted.