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What makes certain evidence admissible in a criminal case?

If your arrest turns into criminal charges, you are likely working toward a defense. As part of that process, you and your criminal defense team will probably review all of the alleged evidence that prosecutors intend to use against you in court.

One of the first things you should know is that the court may not allow prosecutors to use all of that evidence in court. Part of your defense strategy may include determining what evidence is admissible and what evidence is not.

What makes evidence admissible?

Before answering this question, it might be a good idea to understand what types of evidence prosecutors may attempt to use. They include the following:

  • Testimonial evidence
  • Documentary evidence
  • Real evidence
  • Demonstrative evidence

In order for the evidence to be admitted in court, it must meet the following criteria:

  • Material
  • Competent
  • Relevant

If it passes these tests, then the judge or jury decides how important a particular piece of evidence is to your case.

Testimonial evidence can be tricky

The prosecution may ask individuals who claim to have knowledge of the crime to testify. The problem with witnesses is that their recollections may not always be accurate. In addition, the testimony they give may involve hearsay, which means they are testifying about something they heard outside the courtroom. This makes those statements inadmissible in court, unless they fall into one of the many exceptions allowed by law.

You and the prosecutors may attempt to provide testimony regarding your character. The problem is that this evidence is largely based on the opinion of the person on the witness stand. This does not provide evidence regarding what you may have actually done or said. Except under certain circumstances, this type of testimony is often inadmissible.

Some of the evidence provided may require an expert to testify about it, such as DNA evidence. An expert's testimony may only be used after the witness's expertise is shown to fall within the appropriate standards.

Keeping evidence out of court

If you show that certain evidence does not meet the legal criteria for admission into the court record, the court may not allow it. Achieving this goal is not always easy. It may be in your best interests to obtain the advice and assistance of a Wisconsin criminal defense attorney.

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