Fact Witness vs. Expert Witness
A fact witness is a person who has direct knowledge about what happened in a particular case. A fact witness is an individual who has personal knowledge of events pertaining to the case and can testify as to things they have personally observed or witnessed. They may not offer opinions, which are the province of the expert witness. Ultimately, as a fact witness you are to testify on what you have witnessed, without an opinion, unless you are qualified as an expert as well.
An expert witness’ testimony consists of a presentation of an opinion. Unlike a fact witness, that may assist the judge (or jury) in understanding technical knowledge in order to support their ability to make a sound ruling or verdict in a case. An expert witness can be a specialist in dog fighting, hoarding, animal cruelty, or many other other fields. Although experts are typically allowed more leeway in testimony than fact witnesses, the content of their testimony may also be carefully examined by the court for validity.
Certain witnesses may find that sometimes their testimony straddles the grey area of fact and expert witness. For example, you may be questioned on what you did and what the subject did, like a fact witness, and then asked to state an opinion like an expert witness. For this reason, be sure to consult with the counsel in the case to review your position in the case before you testify.