Individuals who can provide insight into a case are referred to as witnesses. Such individuals render statements that are relevant to the ongoing court case. The statement given by a witness is called a testimony. Witnesses usually provide testimonies under oath in order to ensure that the statements they are giving are the truth.
A testimony can serve different purposes, depending on the goal of the legal defense that solicited the witness. It can be a statement that correlates with the case of either the defendant or the plaintiff, or an opinion that may substantiate a claim made by the defense or the prosecution. A testimony can also be used to provide a character reference when the character of one of the litigants is in question. For all kinds of testimonies, the witness delivers the statement orally in a court of law.
A character witness provides a testimony that may affirm or deny a litigant’s character or conduct and is limited to discuss only the aforementioned. An expert witness provides a testimony that involves his or her area of expertise. Such a testimony involves scientific facts like that of a coroner commenting on the autopsy report or expert opinions like that of a psychologist commenting on the behavior of a litigant and his or her mental faculties.
A witness may be ordered to present his or her testimony in a court of law, or voluntarily do so by approaching the court or a lawyer, either from the prosecution or the defense.