Evidence: Why It’s Important
If you’ve been charged with a crime, the prosecution may already have evidence against you. You don’t have to face these charges alone. If you live in or near Albuquerque, NM, I can stand with you.
The rules of evidence determine what evidence is admissible (allowed to be considered), who is responsible for producing evidence and how a court will treat things like hearsay and oral testimony. Federal courts follow a standard called the Federal Rules of Evidence, while each state establishes evidence rules that courts in the state must follow.
What Are Some Areas of Evidence?
There are many types of evidence, and each may be weighed differently by a judge or jury. A criminal defense attorney in your area may be able to further explain the types of evidence that may be presented against you. Do not hesitate to contact me if you are in the Albuquerque area.
Excluding a judge or jury ruling on the case, all persons are presumed to be competent as witnesses, meaning that they are legally able to serve as witnesses in a trial. This includes children as well. However, there are specific legal regulations governing the use of witnesses in a court of law, which are determined by the state in which the court has jurisdiction.
Privilege rules may give a witness the opportunity to prevent or refuse testimony. These privileges include doctor-patient privilege, attorney-client privilege, clergy-penitent privilege, spousal privilege, and state secrets privilege, among others. Privilege rules are established in accordance with state laws, so a local defense attorney should know which types of privilege may apply in your case.
A witness may be impeached, meaning to have his or her testimony discredited, by either legal counsel. Impeachment may not be based on religious or personal beliefs or conviction of a crime that does not relate to the honesty of the testimony or that did not result in a sentence of more than one year.
Hearsay refers to statements made outside the court that are used in court to prove a statement. Generally speaking, hearsay is not admissible as evidence in court. However, there are many exceptions to this rule, including excited utterances, declarations of present state of mind, and statements made for medical diagnosis or business records, among many others. In fact, the Federal Rules of Evidence cover 30 exceptions to the rule making hearsay inadmissible. A criminal defense attorney will be able to explain these exceptions in greater detail.
Circumstantial evidence implies the existence of the fact attempting to be proven but does not prove it. Circumstantial evidence often refers to a defendant’s behavior or whereabouts around the time of a crime, pointing to involvement in the crime.
One popular myth about circumstantial evidence is that it is less valid or important than direct evidence, such as eyewitness testimony. However, many persuasive types of evidence are circumstantial in the absence of an eyewitness, such as fingerprints and DNA samples. Additionally, evidence that is technically circumstantial may be all that is available, or may actually be more persuasive than eyewitness testimony, which can often be inaccurate, and circumstantial evidence may be used in a conviction.