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Understanding Evidence in a Criminal Trial 

On Behalf of | Nov 8, 2022 | Firm News

Evidence is the foundation of any criminal case. Without evidence that proves a defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the prosecution cannot secure a conviction. Evidence plays a pivotal role in a criminal trial and can be a determining factor in establishing guilt.   

If you are arrested or being investigated in connection with a crime, you need to understand what types of evidence can be presented against you and how to challenge it in a criminal trial.   

As a criminal defense attorney with extensive experience defending clients in St. Louis, Missouri, and neighboring areas, I can assist you in building a strong case and gathering evidence to prove or disprove key facts of your case. At The Law Office of Gregory N. Smith, I represent clients facing criminal charges throughout St. Louis and Jefferson counties and surrounding areas.   

What Is Evidence in Criminal Cases?  

Evidence in a criminal trial involves any proof that was lawfully obtained and legally presented at trial to prove or disprove specific facts about the case. The purpose of evidence is to convince the judge or jury that the defendant is guilty or – if the evidence is presented by the defense – that the defendant is not guilty.   

There are different types of evidence that is of use in criminal trials, including: 

  • Witness testimonies 

  • Witness statements 

  • Blood or hair samples 

  • Photographs 

  • Security camera footage 

  • Weapons or other items found at the crime scene 

  • Audio recordings 

  • Email correspondence or text messages 

As a criminal defense attorney at The Law Office of Gregory N. Smith, I have the expertise and resources to help you gather evidence for your criminal case and challenge the prosecution’s case against you.  

Direct vs. Circumstantial Evidence in a Criminal Trial 

Evidence in a criminal trial comes in two types:   

  • Direct evidence. This type of evidence directly proves a fact at issue. Examples include testimony from eyewitnesses who saw the defendant committing the crime, security camera footage showing the defendant committing the crime, the defendant’s fingerprints found on the weapon, and others.  

  • Circumstantial evidence. This type of evidence does not directly prove something but presents a fact or set of facts the court can draw conclusions from. Examples of circumstantial evidence include testimony from eyewitnesses who saw the defendant fleeing from the crime scene, security camera footage showing the defendant near the crime scene, and others.  

  • Typically, circumstantial evidence is used more frequently in criminal cases, but direct evidence usually has more weight in the eyes of the law.  

    Relevance of the Evidence  

    Evidence can be legally admissible in criminal court if it meets the following criteria: 

    • Material. Evidence is “material” if it establishes a fact of the case.    

    • Competent. Evidence must meet the requirements of reliability to be competent and admissible.  

    • Relevant. Evidence must establish a logical connection to the fact it is trying to prove or disprove.   

    Evidence can be submitted in criminal court and used to prove or disprove a defendant’s guilt if it meets the above-mentioned criteria. The relevance of the evidence is considered on a case-by-case basis. What is relevant in one criminal case may not be relevant in another.   

    What Evidence May Be Not Admissible?  

    Now that you understand what makes evidence admissible in criminal courts, let’s discuss what types of evidence may not be admissible. Examples of inadmissible evidence include:  

    • Evidence that is not relevant to the case  

    • Evidence that is illegal or improper  

    • Evidence that is hearsay  

    • Evidence that promotes prejudice or bias  

    • Evidence obtained in violation of the defendant’s constitutional rights  

    If the evidence against a defendant is inadmissible, it will not be of use in a criminal trial to prove their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If you are facing criminal charges and believe that the evidence against you is not admissible, contact a skilled defense attorney to help you file a motion to suppress evidence and prove that the evidence should be deemed inadmissible.   

    How Legal Counsel Can Help 

    If you are facing criminal charges and awaiting trial, you need legal counsel to help you review the strengths and weaknesses in the prosecution’s case. As a defense attorney at The Law Office of Gregory N. Smith, I will examine the evidence introduced against you, file motions to suppress inadmissible evidence and prepare a strong defense strategy for your particular case. Contact my office in St. Louis, Missouri, to discuss your situation.