In a criminal trial, it must be shown beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime that he or she is accused of committing. This is done by presenting evidence to a jury who will use it to render a verdict. Let’s take a closer look at what may be considered evidence.
Evidence Bolsters the Prosecution’s Claims
Anything that may validate the claims being made by a prosecutor could be considered evidence. For instance, if the defendant admits to committing the crime in question, that would generally be revealed at trial. Other forms of evidence include witness testimony or physical evidence from the scene of the crime. Physical evidence may also include the use of DNA to connect a defendant to a crime or forensics work such as wiping a car for prints.
Not All Evidence Is Accepted in Court
For evidence to be used as part of a case against a defendant, it must be collected properly. It must also be handled properly after it is collected to ensure that there are no doubts about who it belonged to or who used it to commit a crime. In the event that a search was conducted illegally or a witness statement was obtained illegally, it generally cannot be used to convict an individual.
New Evidence May Allow Old Cases To Be Retried
Typically, an individual cannot be tried twice for the same crime. In other words, if a defendant is acquitted of a charge, he or she won’t be prosecuted again for the same charge. However, if new evidence is found, it may be enough to support new charges or enough to connect that person to another crime that he or she can be tried for.
Evidence From Other Crime Scenes May Be Used If Relevant
It is possible that an individual could be charged, tried and convicted of a crime based on evidence found at another crime scene. For instance, authorities may notice that DNA found on a murder victim matches that of a known criminal who is wanted for allegedly committing other offenses. As long as the evidence is collected properly and is relevant to the case a prosecutor is trying, it will generally be admissible in court.
Some Evidence May Be Used to Build a Case Even If It Cannot Be Produced
In some cases, evidence may be damaged or destroyed either in the commission of a crime or afterward in an attempt to conceal it. However, it may be possible to use a computer simulation or some other form of reconstruction to give insight into how a crime may have been committed. A judge may need to sign off on the use these alternate techniques, and it may give the defense a reason to appeal any guilty verdict a jury may render.
Expert Witnesses May Provide Context
An expert witness in a case is unique in the fact that he or she did not actually see any crime occur. This person generally doesn’t know either party in the case, and it is doubtful that he or she has had any direct contact with a medical examiner or police detective.
Instead, an expert witness reviews the evidence gathered in the case and makes conclusions based on his or her knowledge of a particular field. For instance, a gun expert may tell the jury whether it was likely that a particular weapon was used in the commission of a crime or how it may have been used.
Counsel for the defense may use such a witness to create doubt while a prosecutor will use such a witness to remove doubt. However, it will ultimately be up to the jury to determine how credible they find an expert to be.
If you are accused of a crime, it is important that you talk with an attorney. He or she may review the evidence in the case to determine the best way to protect your rights. It is important to know that you have no obligation to talk to police or any other person without your lawyer present.