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Understanding Evidence in Criminal Trial

A. Stallworth Law Office June 24, 2022

The cornerstone of any criminal case is evidence. It does not matter what type of crime—it is the determining factor in proving fault. When you have been arrested or charged with a crime, your case will go to trial, where evidence and facts of the case will be reviewed by the court or jury and ultimately determine the outcome. That can be a scary experience when you don’t know what to expect. 

Many individuals facing criminal charges are overwhelmed because they feel the evidence may be stacked against them and prematurely accept fault to forgo a criminal trial. Every situation is different, and there is always hope! As a criminal defense attorney in Oakland, California, my firm, the Darryl A. Stallworth Law Office, is dedicated to providing empathetic and effective representation for those facing criminal charges. I also serve clients in San Francisco, Alameda County, Northern California, and the Bay Area.

What Is Evidence?

Evidence is any physical or verbal sign that proves something is true. In the legal world, evidence is any proof that is used to convince a judge or jury of a disputed point. Generally, courts recognize five broad categories of evidence:

  1. Real Evidence - Real evidence is any evidence that was used or present in the crime or scene of the crime. Examples include weapons, clothing, money, and vehicles. 

  2. Documentary Evidence — Documentary evidence is any evidence on paper. Examples include writings, journals, drawings, photographs, and audio and video recordings.

  3. Demonstrative Evidence — Demonstrative evidence illustrates the proving of a point. Examples include charts, graphs, models, and displays. 

  4. Testimonial Evidence — Testimonial evidence relies on witnesses to state what they saw before, during, and after the crime. Examples include verbal and written statements. 

  5. Digital Evidence — Digital evidence is any evidence retrieved from a digital or electronic source. Examples include text messages, phone calls, emails, and computer hard drives.

Direct vs. Circumstantial Evidence

Generally speaking, there are two types of evidence; direct and circumstantial. Direct evidence has a clear connection to the crime and proves a person’s guilt. For example, security camera footage shows a person breaking into a store and stealing items. In contrast, circumstantial evidence only implies that a person committed a crime. For example, eyewitness testimony that they saw a person fleeing from the scene of a crime. 

In most criminal cases, a single piece of evidence may not be enough to demonstrate guilt, prosecutors will often try to “stack the deck” and persuade the jury to put the pieces together to find that the person in question committed the crime.

Relevance of Evidence

Any evidence that is used in court must be relevant. For evidence to be considered relevant, it must have a logical connection between the fact that it is trying to prove or disprove. Most of the time, relevant evidence creates a chain of facts linking together that demonstrates proof. A judge typically decides the relevance of evidence and whether it is admissible or not. 

Inadmissable Evidence

Any evidence that is not relevant is considered inadmissible and cannot be presented before a jury. Although specific laws vary from state to state, evidence may be considered inadmissible for reasons such as:

  • The evidence gathered was improperly obtained.

  • The evidence illustrates and promotes bias or prejudicial value.

  • The evidence is hearsay.

  • The evidence is not related to the current case. 

Courts have strict rules for what is and are not admissible as evidence. One of the most common strategies to defend against criminal charges is to prove that the evidence being used by prosecutors is inadmissible.

Get Reliable Representation When You Need It

Facing a criminal charge can be an overwhelming weight to carry. Evidence plays a critical role in any investigation and criminal trial. Understanding evidence and what evidence may be relevant, will help ease the burden of not knowing what to expect. Never rely on internet knowledge alone. You need a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney that will review your case and help analyze the evidence.

At Darryl A. Stallworth Law Office, I have the passion, work ethic, and years of experience that help defend against criminal charges in California. No matter what type of criminal charges you are facing, I can help you navigate the judicial system every step of the way.

Make the right choice to get reliable representation when you need it most. Call me today at (insert phone number) or connect online.

I serve individuals facing criminal charges and their families in Oakland, San Francisco, and the Bay Area in California.