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Evidence

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Evidence

In order to prosecute a criminal charge, the prosecuting attorney must have sufficient evidence.  The criminal justice system consists of various proceedings that test the sufficiency of the evidence at various stages of the trial process.  The prosecuting attorney presents evidence to the grand jury who determines early in the case whether or not there is probable cause to support the charges.  Similarly, in a preliminary hearing, a judge listens to the evidence and determines if there is probable cause to send (“bind over”) the case to a higher court for trial.  Finally, in the event that the case moves forward and the defendant does not enter a negotiated guilty plea, the trial jury will use the evidence to determine guilt or innocence.

Types Of Evidence Used In Trial

What is evidence?  Evidence is any type of proof—witness testimony, documents or tangible items—that is used to support any element of a charge in a criminal case.  It bears mentioning that evidence is also used to prove the facts of a civil case. 

What evidence is admissible at trial?  In order to be considered by the jury (or the judge if the case is a bench trial), the evidence must be admissible.  The admissibility of evidence often presents complex legal issues that are either handled in pretrial motions or objections made during the trial. The laws of evidence provide general guidelines for the admissibility of evidence, but nearly every rule of evidence has at least a handful of exceptions.  Generally speaking, in order to be admissible at trial, there must be a proper legal foundation for the evidence.  The evidence must also be properly authenticated by the attorney seeking to introduce it, and it must be relevant to the case.  Typically, hearsay evidence is inadmissible, but there are a variety of exceptions to this rule.          

A Legal Professional Can Help

The laws of evidence can be complicated to maneuver especially during a trial.  An experienced criminal attorney will have a good grasp of the evidence laws in your state and will be able to identify weaknesses in the prosecution’s evidence.  Additionally, an experienced attorney will recognize legal deficiencies with the prosecution’s evidence and challenge the evidence both before and during the trial. 

If you’re facing a criminal prosecution, you need to contact an attorney right away for assistance with your case.  Click below to complete a free case evaluation form.

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