Material Witness Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Material Witness, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Material Witness?

(n) Material witness is the person who can give worthy information or significant evidence about the subject matter of the law suit, which have important bearing on the outcome of the trial. Eg. Eye witness of the incident.

History and Meaning of Material Witness

In legal terms, a "material witness" is someone who has important knowledge or evidence related to a legal dispute, such as a crime or a lawsuit. This witness could provide key testimony that would affect the outcome of the case.

The concept of the material witness has been a part of legal proceedings for centuries, with early court systems recognizing the need for compelling witnesses to testify when called upon. Over time, legal systems have developed ways of identifying and compelling material witnesses to appear in court, whether they are willing to do so or not.

Examples of Material Witness

  1. In a murder trial, a bystander who witnessed the crime taking place would likely be considered a material witness.

  2. A bank teller who had a clear view of a robbery in progress could be called upon as a material witness in the ensuing trial.

  3. During a civil lawsuit over a contract dispute, a third party who witnessed the signing of the original contract may be considered a material witness.

  4. A forensic expert who can testify to the evidence found at a crime scene would also be considered a material witness.

Legal Terms Similar to Material Witness

  1. Eye witness: A person who saw an event take place.

  2. Expert witness: A person who is called upon to testify as an expert in a certain field, offering insights and opinions that a layperson would not be able to provide.

  3. Lay witness: A witness who is not an expert and can only offer their own observations and opinions on the events in question.

  4. Hostile witness: A witness who is uncooperative or actively tries to undermine the legal proceeding.

  5. Subpoena: A court order that compels someone to appear in court or provide evidence or testimony.