A legal philosophy built on honesty

The Law Library – “Evidence”

Published in Criminal Law on October 2, 2015.

Today is another post about the common misconceptions about criminal law that run through jails all over the state of Indiana.  Every criminal defense lawyer likes to have a client who is informed, participating and engaged in their case.  Unfortunately, due to a lot of bad advice and misunderstanding of the law the phrase “I have been to the law library” has come to signal to criminal attorneys that they are going to have to dispel something their client believes to be the absolute truth.

“They don’t have ANY evidence!  Just what the witness says.”

There are different types of evidence that can be admitted at trial.  Basically there is “physical evidence” and there is “testimonial evidence”.

Physical evidence is what most people think of when they hear the word evidence.  These are things like videos, drugs, guns, shell casings, or photographs of injuries.  This evidence typically needs to have a foundation laid to be admitted.  Juries will frequently list different types of physical evidence when asked during jury selection what types of evidence they expect the state to present during trial. Depending on what the physical evidence is, it can be very powerful but it can also be explained away.  Without an explanation of what this evidence is and how it is important frequently physical evidence is worthless.

The other type of evidence is testimonial evidence.  Every case needs some form of testimonial evidence.  This type of evidence is simply what someone tells a judge or jury while they are testifying.  Sometimes this is eyewitness testimony, sometimes it statements that the defendant has made to the witness.  Almost anything a witness has personal knowledge of and is relevant can be testified to.  There are exceptions to what someone may be allowed to testify about.  These exceptions are governed by the rules of evidence.

Testimonial evidence can be extremely unreliable but despite what many people say, it is all that the state needs to move forward with a case.  In fact, in many cases like domestic battery, invasion of privacy, and robbery the only evidence there may be is testimonial evidence.  Some jurors may be concerned about convicting someone based only on someone’s story.  Unfortunately though, it does happen if they feel the witness is credible enough.

If you have a case pending, make sure you have a criminal defense lawyer who knows what evidence is admissible and how to attack different types of evidence through cross examination.  Contact the criminal defense attorneys at Eskew Law to discuss your case.

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