Understanding Evidence in a Criminal Trial
According to statistics from the Crime in Tennessee report by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), there were 502,706 total reported crimes statewide in 2021. When a person is apprehended and charged with a crime in Tennessee, the judiciary system may require a criminal trial to shed more light on the surrounding circumstances of the case or crime.
During the trial, the judge or jury will evaluate the available evidence, establish the facts of the case, and reach a verdict. However, the defendant's fate depends on the facts, strengths, and admissibility of the evidence presented at trial. An experienced Tennessee criminal defense attorney can educate you about the different types of evidence that are admissible in a criminal trial.
At the Law Offices of Fisher Wise, I'm dedicated to offering comprehensive guidance and skilled representation to individuals facing criminal charges. I'm available to discuss your unique situation, evaluate the evidence and facts against you, and decide if they can be used to establish or disprove the facts of your case during the criminal trial. My firm is proud to serve clients across Chattanooga and all surrounding counties, including Marion County, Sequatchie County, Rhea County, and Bradley County, Tennessee.
What Is Evidence?
Evidence in a criminal trial is any form of legally-presentable proof during court proceedings. The primary purpose of evidence is to prove or disprove an alleged fact about the case and convince the judge or jury regarding the subject under consideration. Some common examples of evidence include witness statements, blood samples, witness testimonies, hair samples, email correspondence, and security camera footage.
Types of Criminal Evidence
Here are the different types of evidence that may be presented in a Tennessee criminal trial:
Real Evidence: Real evidence includes any material item that is present at the crime scene or involved in the case. A gun, knife, marked money, or blood-stained clothing is a common example of real evidence. Generally, you can hold real evidence physically and the jury or judge can inspect the item.
Demonstrative Evidence: Demonstrative evidence includes diagrams, charts, and maps often used to accurately replicate or corroborate a witness's testimony. In demonstrative evidence, you may need to reconstruct the crime scene and use it at trial.
Testimonial Evidence: Testimonial evidence involves any proof provided by an eyewitness – through a statement or testimony – under oath. During the court proceedings, the judge may call the witness to the stand to describe, narrate, or demonstrate the events they saw or heard.
Documentary Evidence: Documentary evidence includes any document associated with the events or crime that can be presented in court to prove or dispute the facts of a case. Common examples of documentary evidence include official documents, meeting notes, correspondence, and medical reports.
Digital Evidence: Digital evidence includes any digital files or electronic source that may be provided as a fact in a criminal case. Examples of digital evidence include text messages, emails, phone calls, video surveillance recordings, as well as data, files, or information obtained from hard drives.
Direct vs. Circumstantial Evidence
Evidence may be further classified as circumstantial or direct evidence.
Circumstantial Evidence: Circumstantial evidence can be described as indirect evidence relating to the crime logically but not directly. Circumstantial evidence can:
Help prove one or more facts of the case.
Provide a logical connection to other aspects or facts of the case.
For instance, the eyewitness didn't witness the crime but saw the alleged defendant leaving the crime scene with a weapon.
Direct Evidence: Conversely, direct evidence can be described as direct proof of a fact about what that eyewitness personally saw, heard, or did. The evidence will be direct if:
The witness saw the defendant committing the crime.
The witness saw the weapon used to commit the offense.
The defendant confessed to the crime.
Eyewitness statements and testimonies are common examples of direct evidence.
What Counts as Evidence in a Criminal Trial?
A piece of evidence will only be admissible in a criminal trial if all of these elements are present:
Relevant – The evidence must relate to the case, the points at issue, a material, or a fact.
Material – The evidence is being provided to establish a fact of the case.
Competent – The evidence must meet the traditional legal requirements of reliability.
Not outweighed by countervailing concerns – The evidence must not be confusing, worthless, unfairly prejudicial, or based on hearsay.
A knowledgeable criminal defense attorney can review every aspect of your case and decide if the available evidence against you is reliable and admissible in court.
What Evidence Is Not Admissible in Court?
As mentioned previously, evidence plays a major role during court proceedings. It can be used to prove or challenge the facts of a case. However, a piece of evidence will not be admissible in a criminal trial if:
It is unjustly prejudicial.
It isn't relevant to the case or facts under review.
It is hearsay.
It was obtained illegally, such as through unlawful police search or seizure.
It was obtained in violation of the offender's legal rights.
There are doubts regarding how the evidence was handled.
A trusted attorney can help gather factual evidence to support your case and refute the accusation against you with substantial facts.
Look to Dependable Representation
Facing a criminal allegation can be scary and overwhelming. However, the outcome of your case will depend on the ability of your defense counsel to prove, challenge, or disprove the prosecution's evidence against you and present substantial evidence to establish your innocence. At the Law Offices of Fisher Wise, I have the diligence and resources to guide and represent clients in their criminal cases.
As your legal counsel, I can help you understand what counts as admissible evidence and strategize an effective approach to pursue your case. Using my extensive knowledge, I can guide you through the Tennessee criminal justice system, refute the accusations against you with factual evidence, and make sure you are given a fair hearing.
Having me on your side can improve your chances of getting the most favorable outcome in your criminal case. Contact me at the Law Offices of Fisher Wise today to schedule a simple case evaluation with a dependable criminal defense attorney. My firm proudly represents clients throughout Chattanooga, Red Bank, Soddy-Daisy, East Ridge, Marion County, Sequatchie County, Rhea County, and Bradley County, Tennessee.