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The Rules Behind the Admissibility of Evidence and Technology’s Effect

In criminal proceedings, introducing evidence is the most integral part of the proceeding. The type of evidence and its relevancy can make the difference in a case by determining whether a criminal defendant will be acquitted of the offense or convicted. This makes the practice of determining relevant and admissible evidence extremely important as it is the court’s role to dictate which evidence shall be admissible and which shall be inadmissible. Generally, evidence will be categorized in two classifications: demonstrative evidence and substantive evidence.

Demonstrative Evidence

Demonstrative evidence is evidence that is understood through the senses without any additional testimony being needed to help the jury process the relevance of the information. Demonstrative evidence can depict real objects or may be computer graphics, charts and graphs that independently explain the facts of the case. Demonstrative evidence is a medium by which attorneys may present testimony, documentary, or real evidence to the jury.

Substantive Evidence

Substantive evidence is evidence that is put forth where some conclusion may be adduced from it through scientific or factual data and proves a fact within the criminal case. An example of substantive evidence is the use of a computer graphic that reconstructs an accident using relevant facts and scientific data that have been input.

Rules of Evidence’s Determination Regarding What is Relevant and Admissible Evidence

Both demonstrative evidence and substantive evidence require that the information that is put forth in court are relevant, material, and are admissible according to the Rules of Evidence. Relevant evidence in Florida is defined as all evidence that either can prove or disprove a material fact or element in a case to some extent. Usually all relevant evidence is admissible unless its admissibility would violate one of the Rules of Evidence. According to Florida’s Rules of Evidence, relevant evidence is inadmissible where its probative value is substantially outweighed by confusion or misleading of the jury, unfair prejudice, or the evidence has already been presented in a cumulative fashion, and its introduction would be needless.

Technology’s Influence on Evidence

Technology has greatly influenced the use of demonstrative and substantive evidence, especially as our society has grown greatly to be visual learners. Demonstrative aids used to present evidence in the past have been limited to certain visual mediums. However, technology has not only reinforced the use of videotapes and photographs and has greatly advanced the graphics of video and photographic images, but new mediums have come to fray leaving courts wondering how to introduce this evidence.

The Use of 3D Printing in Florida’s Criminal Proceedings

One company in Florida has introduced into the courts the use of 3D printers, which may take x-rays and print out, in exact replication, the bone (and its sprain/fractures) that may be depicted into the x-rays. This may help especially since in the past, demonstrative evidence has been found to be inadmissible because the exhibit being introduced was not substantially similar to what the actual, real object was in the case.

Graphic Evidence May Be Found Inadmissible Even if it is Otherwise Relevant and Admissible

Finally, certain evidence that may be otherwise admissible and relevant might be required to be introduced in a different way due to the graphic nature of the evidence. For example, providing a colored photo of a mutilated child who is the victim of the case may be inadmissible for evidence because of the graphic nature and its prejudicial influence that it may have on the jury. Though relevant and material, it is possible that the court will require the evidence to be introduced in a less graphic way, such as, in black and white photos or through witness testimony.

Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in Fort Lauderdale

Understanding and determining which type of evidence is crucial for advocating on your behalf during criminal proceedings can be difficult. An experienced defense attorney like Kevin J. Kulik can help introduce evidence beneficial to your case and block evidence which may be prejudicial. Contact Kevin J. Kulik today for a free and confidential consultation in the Fort Lauderdale area.

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