Creating Sustainable Solutions

That Fit Your Life

3 important evidence rules that affect many criminal cases

On Behalf of | Jun 10, 2024 | Firm News

For the state to successfully prosecute someone with a criminal charge, it is necessary to prove that they broke the law. A lot of effort goes into the process of collecting and validating evidence. Prosecutors typically only bring charges against individuals when they believe there is sufficient evidence to obtain a conviction in criminal court.

There are certain rules that apply to the evidence used in criminal proceedings. Those facing criminal charges may benefit from learning about those rules as they look at different ways to defend against the charges they face. The three rules about evidence below can play a major role in a criminal defense strategy.

Prosecutors must have convincing evidence

Rumors, circumstantial evidence and testimony from individuals of questionable intent may not be enough to convict someone of a serious offense. The evidence presented by the state has to be relatively convincing for a conviction to be likely. The standard maintained by the criminal courts is evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that someone committed a crime. Prosecutors rely on physical evidence and testimony gathered by police officers to develop a case against someone who may have broken the law. Raising questions about the accuracy or validity of evidence could prevent the prosecutor from achieving that standard.

The state cannot break the law to collect evidence

The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution protects people from the threat of unreasonable searches and property seizures. Police officers have to respect someone’s rights and need to comply with certain procedural rules when gathering evidence. An illegal search or inappropriate questioning might lead to unusable evidence. Defense lawyers can sometimes invoke the exclusionary rule in an attempt to keep certain evidence out of the courts.

The state must gather and preserve evidence carefully

For evidence to hold up under scrutiny in criminal court, the state must take great care when collecting and cataloging the evidence. It is also typically necessary to store the evidence in a safe facility. There should be detailed records about the collection of the evidence and any efforts to review, test or analyze it. Mistakes in record-keeping and unauthorized access to evidence could undermine how useful it is during someone’s trial.

Many successful criminal defense strategies begin with a review of the state’s evidence. Understanding how a prosecutor may try to build the case against a defendant can help a defense team find a way to fight someone’s pending charges successfully.