demonstrative evidence- Evidence which demonstrates a quality or truth about a relevant part of the case. Examples of demonstrative evidence are: models, diagrams, photos and maps. This form of evidence is meant to clarify the facts that are otherwise considered hard to explain verbally. Such evidence assists the fact finders in their determination of the weight of the evidence.
direct evidence- Evidence which is directly perceived in fact without the need of having to infer anything from its presence.
direct examination- Questions asked of one's own witness. The questions cannot be leading.
DNA- The initials for deoxyribonucleic acid, the molecular code of human life. As with fingerprints, each person possesses a unique chromosomal identity based on hereditary characteristics. DNA can be found in each living cell including blood, sperm, skin and hair follicles. DNA testing can result in absolute proof as to the existence of a physical presence at a crime scene. DNA testing is very expensive.
evidence- All physical and nonphysical things which are determined by the court to be heard or shown to the jury for their consideration and judgment of the ultimate facts of the case. Examples of evidence are: witness testimony, blood stains, weapons, models, photos and graphs. Only relevant evidence is allowed to be admitted in a case. Evidence is relevant if it tends to prove or disprove a fact in controversy.
exculpatory- Evidence which tends to support the innocence of a defendant.
forensic expert- An expert whose testimony is scientific in nature and who testifies on behalf of either the prosecutor or the defense. The goal of the expert is to assist the fact finder in understanding scientific information. Forensic medicine is a very lucrative business.
in camera- Latin for "in chambers." There are times when proposed evidence must be first examined by the court before allowing it to be shown to the jury. This commonly occurs in the privacy of the judge's chambers. A court reporter is usually present if the judge is prepared to accept arguments and make a ruling on the proposed evidence.
incompetent evidence- A court finding that certain proposed evidence not be allowed to be considered by the jury on the basis that the evidence is not sufficiently trustworthy, and thus not to be legally relevant to the case.
insufficient evidence- A judicial finding that the evidence presented was legally insufficient to convict a person beyond a reasonable doubt.
irrelevant- Any evidence which does not tend to prove or disprove a fact of consequence in the trial. However, almost any related issue can be argued to tend to prove something of consequence in the trial. The judge must rule on issues of relevancy based on fairness, due process and judicial expediency.
lay a foundation- A determination by the court to hear and consider why certain evidence is sufficiently relevant and trustworthy before allowing it into evidence. For example, before an expert can give expert opinion as a witness a foundation must be laid establishing that the expert is qualified by virtue of training, education and experience to give such testimony.
probable cause- That amount of proof necessary before law enforcement can stop, search or arrest a criminal suspect. It is that degree of belief necessary which will cause law enforcement to say that under the totality of the circumstances a crime has been or is about to be committed. Probable cause is often more subjective then objective.
proof- Evidence used in a criminal trial which tends to prove a fact in controversy. Proof can be testimony, expert opinion, and physical evidence.
relevancy- Only relevant evidence can be admitted in a trial. Evidence is relevant if it tends to prove or disprove a fact in controversy at trial.
scintilla- This term is commonly used to describe the weight of evidence as small and barely enough to make a factual finding.
fruit of the poisonous tree- Evidence which is discovered through illegal search or seizure must be excluded, based on the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.
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