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The Spodek Law Group understands how delicate high-profile cases can be, and has a strong track record of getting positive outcomes. Our lawyers service a clientele that is nationwide. With offices in both LA and NYC, and cases all across the country - Spodek Law Group is a top tier law firm.

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Files and Evidence in Your Case

By Spodek Law Group | October 19, 2023
(Last Updated On: October 20, 2023)

Last Updated on: 20th October 2023, 09:26 am


Files and Evidence in Your Case

If you’ve been charged with a crime, the evidence against you can make or break your case. The prosecution will try to use every piece of evidence they can to prove you’re guilty. As the defendant, you need to understand how this evidence can be used, and what your options are. This article will walk you through the key things to know about files and evidence in a criminal case.

Police Reports

After you’re arrested, the police will write up a report about what happened. This report will likely form the basis of the prosecution’s case against you. It’ll have the officers’ version of events, statements from any witnesses, and a list of the evidence collected. Pay attention to what’s in the report – is it accurate, or did the cops get something wrong? Pointing out inaccuracies in the police report can help undermine the prosecution’s case.

You and your lawyer have a right to get a copy of the police report through the discovery process (more on that later). Read it carefully, and talk with your attorney about anything that seems incorrect or questionable. For example, if the report says you were holding drugs when the cops found you, but you know you weren’t – that’s worth bringing up.

Statements You Made

Anything you said to the police, whether during the arrest or later at the station, will likely come back to haunt you. The cops will use your own words against you. Your offhand remarks could be seen as admissions of guilt. Even saying something like “those aren’t my drugs” could imply you knew about the drugs.

That’s why it’s so important to invoke your right to remain silent. Don’t say anything to the cops beyond “I want my lawyer.” The Supreme Court says prosecutors can’t use your silence against you, so zip your lips!

Physical Evidence

Physical evidence collected from the crime scene can be very incriminating. Things like fingerprints, weapons, blood samples, or stolen goods directly link you to the crime. As the defendant, your lawyer will scrutinize this evidence closely for any signs of tampering or mistakes in collection or testing.

For example, if your fingerprints were found on a murder weapon, your attorney will want to check that the cops followed protocol in dusting for prints and storing the weapon properly. If the evidence was contaminated or improperly handled, your lawyer can argue it should be excluded.

Surveillance Video

Video footage of you committing the crime pretty much seals the deal. But even then, your attorney will examine the circumstances carefully. Is the video clear enough to identify you without a doubt? Are there any gaps in the footage that could raise questions?

For instance, if a store camera shows someone that looks like you robbing the register, your lawyer will want to verify it’s actually you. Eyewitness misidentification is a common cause of wrongful convictions.

Eyewitness Testimony

Eyewitness statements can make compelling evidence. But human memory is unreliable, and witnesses can be mistaken. Your attorney will want to know things like: how good of a view did the witness have? How much time passed between the event and the identification? Did the police use suggestive procedures like lineups or photo arrays?

Cross-examining eyewitnesses and highlighting inconsistencies in their accounts could make their testimony less credible. Experts say eyewitness testimony should be viewed cautiously and not treated as infallible.

Expert Opinions

Scientific experts like crime scene analysts, forensic pathologists, and DNA specialists can provide technical evidence based on their expertise. Their testimony often carries significant weight with the jury.

But expert opinions aren’t unassailable. Your lawyer will scrutinize the expert’s credentials, methods, and conclusions. In some cases, you may be able to get your own expert to rebut their testimony. Attacking the credibility of the prosecution’s experts can undermine a key source of evidence.


Hearsay – when a witness testifies about something someone else said – is usually inadmissible as evidence. But hearsay can still make its way into a trial indirectly. Say the prosecution calls a cop to the stand. In telling their account, the cop mentions that an eyewitness said they saw you commit the crime. Your lawyer can object that this is hearsay – the eyewitness’s statement is being used to prove you’re guilty, without them actually testifying.

Pay attention for backdoor hearsay that could prejudice the jury against you. Your attorney will speak up to prevent unreliable secondhand statements coming into evidence.

Character Evidence

In most cases, your past criminal record can’t be used as evidence against you. This prevents prior convictions from unfairly biasing the jury. The prosecution typically can’t bring up your criminal history unless you choose to testify.

However, if you’re charged with a sex crime, prior offenses may be admissible even if you don’t testify. Rules about character evidence vary by state, so talk to your lawyer. Getting inadmissible character evidence excluded is key.


Through the discovery process, your defense is entitled to view the prosecution’s evidence against you. This includes things like police reports, witness statements, investigative reports, videos, photos, and documents. If the prosecution fails to disclose evidence, it can’t be used against you at trial.

Carefully reviewing discovery with your attorney allows you to anticipate the prosecution’s arguments and identify weaknesses to exploit. It also prevents any unfair surprises at trial. Disclosure violations by the prosecution could result in evidence being excluded.

Suppressing Evidence

If evidence was obtained illegally, your lawyer can file a suppression motion to prevent it from being used at trial. For example, if the cops searched your home without a warrant, the evidence found may be suppressed. If you were interrogated without being read your rights, your statements could potentially be suppressed.

Getting damning evidence thrown out deals a major blow to the prosecution’s case. It also discourages police misconduct in the future. Talk to your lawyer about any issues with how evidence was gathered.

The Exclusionary Rule

The exclusionary rule prohibits the use of evidence acquired through unconstitutional means. This rule incentivizes law enforcement to follow proper protocols and protects defendants against police overreach. If the cops clearly violated your rights in obtaining evidence, the exclusionary rule may suppress it.

For instance, if the police stopped you without reasonable suspicion and found drugs during the illegal stop, those drugs could potentially be excluded per the exclusionary rule. Speak with your lawyer about any questionable police conduct.

Chain of Custody

The chain of custody documents everyone who handled a piece of evidence, from collection through testing to trial. It prevents tampering and contamination. If the chain of custody is broken, it could cast doubt on the integrity of the evidence.

For example, if your DNA sample sat unattended in an unlocked office before being tested, defense counsel could argue the results are unreliable due to a compromised chain of custody. Weak links in the chain can make evidence vulnerable to being excluded.

Forensic Testing

Many cases rely heavily on forensic evidence like ballistics, fingerprint analysis, DNA matching, and toxicology tests. But while juries tend to view forensic science as infallible, it’s actually prone to error.

Mistakes in collection, handling, testing methods, or interpretation of results happen more often than you’d think. Your lawyer will closely assess the reliability of any forensic evidence. Getting an independent expert to reexamine fingerprints or DNA can uncover flaws in the state’s tests.

Using Evidence to Your Advantage

While the prosecution will try to use every piece of evidence against you, skilled defense attorneys can often find ways to flip the script. With smart argumentation, they can cast doubt on the reliability of state’s evidence and even turn it to the defense’s favor.

For example, surveillance footage the prosecution claims identifies you could be ambiguous or inconclusive upon closer inspection. Or blood evidence that incriminates you could have been contaminated due to sloppy collection practices. Witness testimony can be undercut through rigorous cross-examination.

In some cases, evidence the state introduces can actually bolster the defense’s theory of the case or support an argument for reasonable doubt. Evidence is open to interpretation, and an experienced criminal lawyer knows how to use it strategically.

Talk to Your Lawyer

The best thing you can do is be completely open with your attorney about the facts of your case. Don’t hold anything back, even if you think certain details make you look bad. The more your lawyer knows, the better they can advise you on the evidence. Together, you can figure out how to counter the prosecution’s arguments and highlight reasonable doubt.

While the evidence may seem stacked against you, remember the state has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. An adept defense attorney knows how to raise questions, undermine credibility, and prevent prejudicial evidence from influencing the jury. With an experienced legal advocate on your side, the files and evidence don’t have to spell doom. There’s usually hope, even when the outlook seems grim at first.


Griffin v. California

Eyewitness Misidentification

Do the Eyes Have It?

Federal Rules of Evidence 802

Federal Rules of Evidence 404

Suppression of Evidence

Exclusionary Rule

Forensic Science in Criminal Courts

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