What Can Make Evidence Inadmissible in Court?
In criminal cases, evidence plays a crucial role in uncovering the truth. Prosecutors use evidence to connect the defendant to the crime, while the defense side uses evidence to show that the defendant is innocent. Evidence is a critical component that helps the court make informed decisions. However, not all evidence can be used in a criminal trial. In the United States of America, strict rules govern what evidence can be admitted in court, and these rules apply to both prosecutors and defense attorneys. Only admissible evidence can be presented in court. If evidence is inadmissible, it cannot be presented in court. Below, we discuss some of the instances when evidence can be inadmissible.
The Evidence Was Obtained Illegally
If evidence was obtained illegally, it cannot be presented in a criminal court. Illegally obtained evidence is generally evidence that was obtained by violating your rights. If the prosecution obtained evidence by violating your rights, they cannot use it against you. Some of the ways evidence is obtained illegally include through an unreasonable search and coercion.
The Evidence Lacks Relevance
For evidence to be admissible in a criminal court, it must be relevant. Relevant evidence is evidence that has the ability to prove or disprove a fact that is significant to the case. It is evidence that directly connects to the facts in the case. To be considered relevant, evidence should be able to shed light on the truth and help the court reach a fair decision. Any evidence that does not meet these requirements is considered irrelevant and cannot be presented in court.
The Evidence Is Misleading
Another thing that can make evidence inadmissible in court is if the evidence is misleading. If evidence is more prejudicial than probative, it cannot be admitted in court. For example, evidence of a defendant’s sexual orientation is more prejudicial than probative, thus inadmissible.
Improper Handling of Evidence
The proper chain of custody must be followed when collecting and handling evidence. Chain of custody is defined as procedures to account for the integrity of evidence by tracking its handling and storage from the point of collection to final disposition. If the proper chain of custody is not followed, meaning evidence is improperly handled, it can raise questions about the authenticity or reliability of the evidence. Evidence that has been improperly handled can be considered inadmissible.
The Evidence Is Hearsay
Hearsay is an out-of-court statement that was made by a witness not testifying in the case. Usually, hearsay is inadmissible in criminal court. This is because if the person who made the statement is not present in court, it is impossible to establish credibility. Nevertheless, there are some exceptions to the hearsay rule. Exceptions to this rule include “excited utterance” and “statements against interest.” The first exception applies when a person makes a statement during a shocking event or condition. On the other hand, the second exception applies when a person makes a statement that adversely affects them.
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