UNDERSTANDING EVIDENCE IN A CRIMINAL TRIAL
Criminal trials can be long, complicated, and stressful affairs. If you’ve been arrested on a criminal charge, you’re likely concerned about your future and what going to trial will really be like. One of the most important concepts to understand at this time is how evidence can and cannot be used against you in a criminal trial. Your defense attorney should prepare you for what to expect, but there are some basic facts you should know upfront. For more help with this or any other aspect of criminal defense, call the Law Offices of Thomas R. Cox III today. Attorney Tom Cox is able to serve those in Dallas, Irving, Mesquite, Grand Prairie, Highland Park, University Park, and Dallas County, Texas.
What is Evidence?
“Evidence” is a broad term used to describe any kind of proof that’s used to prove a disputed fact in a criminal trial. Evidence is used to try to convince the jury or judge of a specific aspect of the case and can be used by both the prosecution and the defense. It can be something physical like a weapon or piece of clothing; a photograph, video, or audio recording; scientific evidence like fingerprints or DNA; or testimony from a witness that’s either given in court, recorded as part of a deposition, or in written form.
Direct vs. Circumstantial Evidence
One major way evidence is classified is whether it’s direct or circumstantial. Direct evidence is anything that is directly linked to the crime, such as video footage of the crime being committed, fingerprints on a murder weapon, or a recording of someone confessing to the crime. Circumstantial evidence is indirectly related to the crime but still offers a clear link to it to address a disputed point. For example, circumstantial evidence could be an eyewitness testimony of someone who saw the suspect driving away from the scene of the crime or a recording of someone saying they intended to commit a crime.
Relevance of the Evidence
Evidence must also be relevant if it’s to be admissible. The relevance of evidence means that it must be related to the case, to a disputed point concerning the case, or the character of the defendant or a witness. For example, if you’re facing charges for drunk driving and the prosecution tries to bring up a past case when you were charged with robbery, that would not be relevant since drunk driving and theft are not connected to one another. However, if they brought in a witness who saw you consume alcohol at a bar an hour before you were arrested, that would be relevant.
What Evidence May Be Not Admissible?
Even if the evidence is relevant, that does not always mean it’s admissible evidence. There are few reasons why a judge would dismiss evidence, but the two most common are hearsay and the exclusionary rule. Hearsay generally excludes any statement that is made outside of the court that’s intended to prove or disprove a point in the case. For example, if a witness testified that her friend told her they saw the defendant commit the crime, but the friend himself did not admit this in court, it wouldn’t be admissible.
The exclusionary rule allows defendants to remove any evidence obtained in violation of their constitutional rights. For example, if evidence was taken from your home without a warrant, it may not be admissible in court. Or, if when you’re arrested and the officer fails to read your Miranda rights, anything you said to them afterward may be dismissed.
How a Knowledgeable Attorney Can Help
The consequences of a criminal conviction can be life-changing, and you should do everything you can to fight for your right and minimize your penalties. By hiring an experienced attorney, they can work with you to build a strong case and help you understand how criminal evidence will be used against you. If you’re in the Dallas, Texas area, contact the Law Offices of Thomas R. Cox III today to schedule a consultation.