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What is Evidence in a Criminal Trial?

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What is Evidence in a Criminal Trial?

Hi, this is Attorney Kevin Hayslett and the question is – What is evidence in a criminal trial? Well evidence is defined in most states, under the rules of evidence, which governs the criminal trial proceeding. They are federal rules of evidence and most states have their own state rules of evidence which is usually modeled after the federal rules. In order for evidence to be introduced at a trial, the Judge has to make a ruling that the evidence will help the Jury make a decision or reach a verdict of the alleged crime.

Generally, evidence is divided between four types of evidence:

1.    Demonstrative Evidence. For example, a photograph. Let’s say there is a murder case, and there are photographs of the murder scene. Those photographs can be entered as demonstrative evidence to show the Jury where the body was positioned or where the bullet was found. That would add the prosecution in meeting their burden of proving the defendant is guilt beyond a reasonable doubt by showing how the crime was committed. 

2.    Documentary Evidence. For example, documents that were obtained such as lab results or ballistic results of the bullet that was fired in a course of a murder. That evidence would first have to be testified by an professional, who would testify that these are the results of the tests that were done. For instance, this document shows what occurred, how the bullet traveled, and why this bullet is matched up to this particular gun. Under that theory if the trail court determines that it relevant, that it is material, that it would aid a Jury in determining one of the elements, then that documentary evidence could be admitted as evidence and given to the Jury.

3.    Testimonial Evidence. A testimonial evidence is quite simply when people testify. When a prosecutor or state attorney calls a witness to the stand and that person gives testimony, a sworn statement under oath, that is testimonial evidence. A good example of testimonial evidence might be a witness to identify the defendant. For instance, someone takes the stand and testifies, saying I saw the defendant at the place where the crime was committed. That would be testimonial evidence.

4.    Real or Actual Evidence.  A good example of that would be the murder weapon. For instance, in a murder trial, the murder weapon or the gun might be admitted into evidence to show it is this gun that was used to kill the victim. The ballistic evidence supports it and therefore the gun would be admissible because it is relevant, it is material, or it helps prove one of the elements of the crime that there was an unlawful killing.

In conclusion, the four different types of evidence that you would have in a trial include the following. First, there is Demonstrative evidence; such as maps, photographs, charts, or grids. Secondly, Documentary evidence; such as a test results or a check in a forgery case. Third, Testimonial evidence, think of people testifying under oath. Finally, Real or Actual evidence; such as a checkbook or the weapon in a murder case. Those are all examples of evidence. But remember, before evidence can be admitted, a Judge must determine that:

A.    It is Material
B.    It is Relevant
C.    It would assist the trial of fact or Jury

If that occurs, then it becomes evidence in the trial.

The criminal defense attorneys at Carlson, Meissner, Hart & Hayslett, P.A. are fighting for our clients rights in criminal defense cases in ClearwaterTampaBradentonSpring Hill, Pinellas, Pasco, New Port Richey, Manatee, Hillsborough and Hernando Counties in Florida.

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J. Kevin Hayslett

Kevin Hayslett, Esq.

J. Kevin Hayslettis an attorney practicing in the areas of Criminal Defense and DUI Defense from the Clearwater office and Hillsborough office. Kevin is an avid tennis player and is currently nationally rated in singles and doubles. You can follow Kevin onGoogle+, oron Radio IO on his show, "Kevin's Law". Kevin can also be heard on the Sirius Satellite Radio show during the "Ask the Lawyer" segment, which can be heard the first Thursday of every month.