Objections You May Hear in a Florida Criminal Case
If you’ve ever watched coverage of a trial on TV or in films, you’ve no doubt experienced the drama that grips the courtroom when an attorney stands up and shouts “Objection.” While it makes for a great storyline in fictional accounts, objections are essential tools in a criminal trial. The point is to keep inadmissible evidence out of consideration when the judge or jury deliberates, usually because the information violates the Florida Rules of Evidence.
Knowing how and when to use objections is a critical skill that your Fort Lauderdale criminal lawyer must master to protect your rights. Otherwise, evidence may be admitted improperly and lead to adverse consequences for your case. Some of the most common objections in a criminal case include:
Objection #1: Hearsay. The further removed a statement is, the more likely it is to be inaccurate or taken out of context. The hearsay rule exists to prevent mistaken or misunderstood information to be considered by the jury. There are many exceptions to the hearsay rule, however, so it’s essential that the objection is used at the right time – for the right reason.
Objection #2: Irrelevant. Evidence must be relevant to be admissible, so lawyers must frame their questions to elicit consequential facts. The meaning of “consequential” in the practice of law is whether the information makes a fact more or less probable. If it doesn’t, there are proper grounds for an objection.
Objection #3: Speculation. A witness can only testify regarding information that’s personally known to him or her. An individual obtains knowledge through what they see, observe, read, or otherwise perceive through direct means. It’s grounds for objection if an attorney asks an improper question that asks the witness to speculate OR if the witness speculates while answering a proper question.
Objection #4: Improper Opinion. Generally, there are two kinds of witnesses in a criminal case.
- Eyewitnesses, who are lay persons that testify regarding their observations; and,
- Expert witnesses, who testify when their opinions to a key issue in dispute.
Only experts can offer certain opinions, and there are strict rules on how their testimony will be admissible in court. Lay persons cannot testify unless their opinion is based upon their own perception of what they observed. For instance, it’s improper for a lay person to discuss the state of mind or psychological factors of a person accused of a crime. However, he or she could testify regarding:
- The identity of an individual;
- Their own feelings, such as fear, anger, sadness, and others;
- Lighting conditions at the scene of a crime;
- Sound, size, weight, height, distance; and,
- Whether someone seemed intoxicated.
A Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer Will Protect Your Rights
Whether it’s a question by opposing counsel or something a witness says while testifying, making a proper objection could mean the difference between a guilty and not guilty verdict in your case. To learn more about strategies for your defense, please contact attorney Kevin J. Kulik. We can set up a free consultation at our Fort Lauderdale office to discuss your situation.