In both criminal and civil court cases, evidence may be admitted or dismissed in a court procedure. Evidence can make or break a case which is why it is important to choose a good lawyer who is ready to defend their client as best as possible.
What is Admissible Evidence?
Admissible evidence is considered to be any type of tangible, testimony, or document used in a court of law. In general evidence is introduced by a lawyer to a jury or judge with the objective of proving a point or factor in a case. Evidence can be used in criminal and civil law.
Criminal Law: Evidence is typically used to prove or disprove a defendant’s guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt”.
Civil Law: An element or factor of a case may be weighed by the superiority or strength of evidence in a case. It does not have to be evidence that is “beyond a reasonable doubt”.
Prior to evidence being used in a criminal legal case, it must be deemed admissible. Whether or not this holds true will depend on various factors that must be assessed by the court.
How Evidence is Assessed Before Being Considered Admissible
In general, an evidence that is not relevant or reliable to a case is inadmissible. Whereas, relevant and reliable evidence is admissible.
Relevant – In order for evidence to be relevant, it must be able to prove or disprove a fact in the case. If it doesn’t relate to a fact, it may be inadmissible.
Reliable – The source of the evidence must be credible or reliable. This especially pertains to any witness testimony.
Types of Evidence
There are four primary types of evidence in legal cases. These are:
- Real – Dried blood, fingerprints, DNA, a murder weapon, casts of a footprint, etc.
- Demonstrative – Photos, sound recordings, videos, graphs, x rays, simulations, etc.
- Testimonial – The spoken evidence given by a witness who is under oath
- Documentary – Proof that can be presented in written form (i.e. wills, contract, printed email, etc.)
The aforementioned is not exhaustive. A lawyer can further explain other types of evidence that may be particularly relevant to your legal matter.
When Evidence is Inadmissible
Determining what is inadmissible evidence can be a rather complex and nuanced area of law. In general, the rules of evidence are backed by public policy; however, there are a number of exceptions which can have their own exceptions. Consider it an exception within an exception of a rule. Typically evidence will be deemed inadmissible when it:
- Is unfairly prejudicial
- Wastes time
- Is misleading
- Is hearsay
- Is testimony from a lay witness
- Came from a privileged source of information (i.e. a lawyer)
If any evidence is inadmissible, it will not be able to be used in court. Thus it is important to ensure a qualified lawyer reviews and assess any evidence prior to going to court. If you need help with any evidence issues, or with a criminal or civil legal matter, you should consult a lawyer as soon as possible.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Johnston Martineau PLLP for their insight into admissible evidence.