What Kind of Evidence Can Be Admitted in Criminal Cases?

Posted on: 26 March 2020

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Even if you're 100% sure you're innocent in a criminal proceeding, it's a good idea to think about the types of evidence that might be used to convict you. For many clients, this means they should talk with a criminal defense lawyer about what can be admitted and how that might happen. Let's look at 5 types of evidence that can be brought against you.

Testimony

Sworn statements from witnesses and experts are often admitted. Generally, a court wants to have the witness appear on the stand for a criminal case if at all possible. If they are unable to appear, such as due to hospitalization, a deposition may be taken. This is an interview with the witness that's conducted under oath, videotape, and recorded in writing by a court official. A criminal defense lawyer will then raise objections to questionable statements during testimony or deposition to try to limit what might be admitted.

Physical Evidence

This includes things like materials found at the crime scene, weapons, and other items that might fill in the story of what happened. Police are usually the primary collectors of these items, and a defense lawyer will work hard to force the police to document how they found evidence and to prove no one has tampered with it.

Recordings and Photos

Audio and video recordings can be admitted, although they have to be brought in under certain hearsay exceptions in most cases. Photos are handled in a similar manner. Your defense attorney, though, will have the right to make the prosecution prove where they obtained these items and how they've handled them.

It's also common for a criminal defense law firm to question what's depicted. For example, a criminal defense attorney might note that an image is too blurry to make out a suspect's identity.

Demonstrative Evidence

Painting a picture during a trial is important. A prosecutor and a criminal lawyer will both frequently use charts, maps, diagrams, and other items to explain to a judge or a jury how certain events unfolded. The opposing side will also have the chance to point out potential flaws in demonstrative materials.

Documents and Digital Records

Some cases are grounded in records. For example, when accusing someone of embezzlement, a prosecutor may have to show how specific transactions from one financial account show up in another. Similar methods are sometimes used in drug trafficking and computer hacking cases as well.