Types of Evidence That Should Be Excluded from a Florida Criminal Case
Evidence is the focal point of any Florida criminal matter, whether it is in the form of witness testimony, a document, electronic information, or any other item that serves to prove or disprove a fact at issue in the case. If you are facing charges, you naturally want evidence in your favor to be allowed in court and to be tossed if it supports the prosecutor’s allegations. Your wishes may not come true with respect to every item, but generally speaking, evidence should be excluded if it:
- Violates your civil rights;
- Is prohibited by the Florida Evidence Code; or;
- Contravenes another state or federal statute.
Your Florida criminal defense lawyer can tackle the complicated issues involved with what is and is NOT admissible, but it is important to note the basic types of evidence that should be excluded.
- Illegally Obtained Evidence: Under the US and Florida Constitutions, there are protections that prohibit certain acts by police, including:
- Unlawful search of a person, home, or business;
- Unlawful seizure of property; and,
- Forcing a person to self-incriminate, such as through questioning.
If officers violate any of these civil rights, any evidence they obtain illegally must be tossed out of court. The theory is that police would not have recovered such items had they not broken the law, so the evidence should not be admitted.
- Tainted Biological Samples: If a key piece of evidence against you is biological material, the prosecution must be able to show that the sample was properly preserved and could not have been tainted by mishandling. The most common usage is in Florida DUI cases for proving blood alcohol concentration (BAC); plus, this type of evidence is also used in sexual assault cases where DNA may link the suspect to a victim. You could have grounds to get the evidence excluded if there was tampering involved with biological samples.
- Hearsay Evidence: This well-known evidence rule prohibits any out-of-court statement from being made in court when the point is to prove the truth of the matter asserted. The purpose of banning hearsay in court is that there can be serious credibility issues with allowing a person to testify about what someone else said, so the statements should not be allowed in court.
- Evidence Outside the Chain of Custody: Any time evidence is introduced in court as an exhibit, the prosecutor must establish the item’s journey through the criminal justice system – from seizure by police and archived storage to the trip to the courthouse and placement in the courtroom. Any anomalies could lead to tossing the evidence because it fell out of the chain of custody and was subject to tampering.
Your Florida Criminal Defense Attorney Will Handle Evidence Issues
In reviewing these types of evidence that should be excluded, you can see how keeping them out of court can have a significant impact on your criminal case. For more information on evidentiary issues, please contact Fort Lauderdale criminal attorney Kevin J. Kulik. Once we review your specific circumstances, we can advise you on defense strategies.