The evidence used by both defense attorneys and prosecutors during criminal trials is intended to illuminate the crime (if any has actually been committed), as well as the guilt or innocence of the defendant. Both sides in a criminal trial assemble their evidence in order to tell their own version of just what took place.
There are four kinds of evidence that can be used during the trial, but some have a greater impact than others:
As long as it has been properly preserved and the chain of evidence has been well-documented, physical evidence gathered at the crime scene can be very important in a criminal trial. For instance, a forensic scientist can use biological traces gathered at the scene of the crime to place the defendant there. Biological evidence can also be used to identify a victim.
Other physical evidence that might be gathered from the crime scene include things like weapons or drugs. The absence or presence of a particular piece of evidence can make or break a case. For instance, it would be difficult to successfully prosecute someone for drug possession if no drugs were found.
Testimonial evidence can be either live in court or via recorded statements. This kind of evidence can help the jury and judge better understand the events that occurred. In addition to this, when witnesses or a victim are on the stand testifying, the jury will be evaluating both what they say and how they say it. A witness's attitude will often suggest to the jury whether they can or cannot believe that witness.
The goal of both the defense and prosecution when they bring forward witnesses is to prove or disprove any facts that are in question. While there is a general perception among the public that eyewitness testimony is among the most reliable, it has been demonstrated that eyewitnesses can frequently be mistaken about what they saw.
The purpose of demonstrative evidence (or demonstrations) usually isn't to prove a particular point. Instead, lawyers often use this kind of evidence to supplement testimony or to organize other previously presented evidence into a clear and understandable story.
For instance, the prosecutor may decide to introduce a video (either a live action re-creation or computer animation) intended to re-create the crime for the jury. This type of evidence can also help to make expert witness testimony more understandable to both the judge and the jury, such as when a medical expert uses an anatomical model to describe a victim's injuries.
Any documents that are not used to prove or disprove a particular fact would be classified as demonstrative evidence. But defense attorneys and lawyers can also introduce documents that are intended to serve as real proof of a fact. For instance, if a store were being robbed and a surveillance camera recorded video of the crime, this would be considered documentary evidence. In the same way, computer or telephone records could be used to prove threats or stalking by an individual.
To learn more, contact a company like Craig H. Lane, PC with any questions.