Legal Evidence

Legal Evidence

Evidence, broadly construed, is anything presented in support of an assertion, because evident things are undoubted. The strongest type of evidence is that which provides direct proof of the truth of an assertion. At the other extreme is evidence that is merely consistent with an assertion but does not rule out other, contradictory assertions, as in circumstantial evidence.

* In law, rules of evidence govern the types of evidence that are admissible in a legal proceeding.

* Scientific evidence consists of observations and experimental results that serve to support, refute, or modify a scientific hypothesis or theory, when collected and interpreted in accordance with the scientific method.

Source: Wikipedia

Burden of Proof

There are different standards of persuasiveness ranging from a preponderance of the evidence, where there is just enough evidence to tip the balance, to proof beyond a reasonable doubt, as in United States criminal courts.

Source: Wikipedia

Evidence Forms

  • Logical proofs (Deduction and Induction)
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Perception/Experience

Source: What Types of Evidence Are There?

Direct Evidence

Direct evidence supports the truth of an assertion (in criminal law, an assertion of guilt or of innocence) directly, i.e., without an intervening inference. Circumstantial evidence, by contrast, consists of a fact or set of facts which, if proven, will support the creation of an inference that the matter asserted is true.

For example: a witness who testifies that they saw the defendant shoot the victim gives direct evidence. A witness who testifies that they saw the defendant fleeing the scene of the crime, or a forensics expert who says that ballistics proves that the defendant’s gun shot the bullet that killed the victim both give circumstantial evidence from which the defendant’s guilt may be inferred.

In direct evidence, a witness relates what they directly experienced. (Usually the experience is by sight or hearing, though it may come through any sense, including smell, touch or pain. State v. Famber, 214 S.W.2d 40 (Mo. 1947).

Source: Wikipedia

Circumstantial Evidence

Circumstantial evidence is evidence that relies on an inference to connect it to a conclusion of fact—such as a fingerprint at the scene of a crime. By contrast, direct evidence supports the truth of an assertion directly—i.e., without need for any additional evidence or inference.

On its own, circumstantial evidence allows for more than one explanation. Different pieces of circumstantial evidence may be required, so that each corroborates the conclusions drawn from the others. Together, they may more strongly support one particular inference over another. An explanation involving circumstantial evidence becomes more likely once alternative explanations have been ruled out.

Circumstantial evidence allows a trier of fact to infer that a fact exists. In criminal law, the inference is made by the trier of fact in order to support the truth of an assertion (of guilt or absence of guilt).

Source: Wikipedia

Corroborating Evidence

Corroborating evidence (or corroboration) is evidence that tends to support a proposition that is already supported by some initial evidence, therefore confirming the proposition. Defendant says “It was like what he/she (a witness) said but…”. This is Corroborative evidence from the defendant that the evidence the witness gave is true and correct.

Source: Wikipedia

Major Categories of Forensic Evidence

  • Physical vs Non-physical
  • Real vs Demonstrative
  • Known vs Unknown
  • Class vs Individual

Source: North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics

Demonstrative Evidence

Demonstrative evidence is evidence in the form of a representation of an object. It is useful for assisting a finder of fact (fact-finder) in establishing context among the facts presented in a case. To be admissible, a demonstrative exhibit must “fairly and accurately” represent the real object at the relevant time.

Demonstrative evidence is an effective aid in infringement litigation. Whether prosecuting an infringer or defending a patent, originally filled patent drawings which are a part of most patent applications, can play an imperative part in any upcoming litigation. If the original patent drawings are not complete, accurate and exact, then the resulting output for litigation graphics is unreliable and could even hurt a case.

Examples of demonstrative evidence include photos, x-rays, videotapes, movies, sound recordings, diagrams, forensic animation, maps, drawings, graphs, animation, simulations, and models.

Source: Wikipedia

Forensic Evidence

Best Evidence Rule

The best evidence rule is a legal principle that holds an original of a document as superior evidence. The rule specifies that secondary evidence, such as a copy or facsimile, will be not admissible if an original document exists and can be obtained. The rule has its roots in 18th-century British law.

Source: Wikipedia

Federal Rules of Evidence

Rule 803. Exceptions to the Rule Against Hearsay—Regardless of Whether the Declarant Is Available as a Witness

Source: Federal Rules of Evidence

Image Credit: Frederick David Graves

References