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The
law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by its bounda ...
of evidence, also known as the rules of evidence, encompasses the rules and legal principles that govern the proof of
fact A fact is something that is true True most commonly refers to truth Truth is the property of being in accord with fact or reality.Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionarytruth 2005 In everyday language, truth is typically ascribed to things ...
s in a legal proceeding. These rules determine what evidence must or must not be considered by the
trier of fact A trier of fact, or finder of fact, is a person, or group of persons, who determines what fact A fact is something that is true True most commonly refers to truth Truth is the property of being in accord with fact or reality.Merriam ...
in reaching its decision. The trier of fact is a judge in bench trials, or the jury in any cases involving a jury. The law of evidence is also concerned with the quantum (amount), quality, and type of proof needed to prevail in litigation. The rules vary depending upon whether the venue is a criminal court, civil court, or family court, and they vary by jurisdiction. The
quantum In physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior through Spacetime, space and time, and the related entities of energy and force. ...
of evidence is the amount of evidence needed; the quality of proof is how reliable such evidence should be considered. Important rules that govern
admissibility Admissibility may refer to: Law * Admissible evidence, evidence which may be introduced in a court of law *Admissibility (ECHR), whether a case will be considered in the European Convention on Human Rights system Mathematics and logic

* Admissib ...
concern
hearsay Hearsay evidence Evidence for a proposition In logic and linguistics, a proposition is the meaning of a declarative sentence (linguistics), sentence. In philosophy, "Meaning (philosophy), meaning" is understood to be a non-linguistic entity ...
,
authentication Authentication (from ''authentikos'', "real, genuine", from αὐθέντης ''authentes'', "author") is the act of proof (truth), proving an Logical assertion, assertion, such as the Digital identity, identity of a computer system user. In ...
,
relevance Relevance is the concept of one topic being connected to another topic in a way that makes it useful to consider the second topic when considering the first. The concept of relevance is studied in many different fields, including cognitive scie ...
,
privilege Privilege may refer to: Arts and entertainment * ''Privilege'' (film), a 1967 film directed by Peter Watkins * ''Privilege'' (Ivor Cutler album), 1983 * ''Privilege'' (Television Personalities album), 1990 * ''Privilege (Abridged) ''Privile ...
,
witness In law, a witness is someone who has knowledge about a matter, whether they have sensed it or are testifying on another witnesses' behalf. In law a witness is someone who, either voluntarily or under compulsion, provides testimonial evidence, ei ...
es,
opinion An opinion is a judgement Judgement (or US spelling judgment) is also known as ''adjudication'' which means the evaluation of evidence to make a decision. Judgement is also the ability to make considered decisions. The term has four dist ...

opinion
s,
expert testimony An expert witness, particularly in common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or ) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial by virtue of being stated in written opinions. ' is t ...
,
identification Identification or identify may refer to: Art and entertainment *Identify (album), ''Identify'' (album) by Got7 *''Kill Command'', 2016 film, also known as ''Identify'' *Identify (song), "Identify" (song) *Identification (album), by Benjamin Ingr ...
and rules of
physical evidence Physical evidence (also called real evidence or material evidence) is any material object A bubble of exhaled gas in water In common usage and classical mechanics, a physical object or physical body (or simply an object or body) is a collection ...
. There are various standards of evidence, standards showing how strong the evidence must be to meet the
legal burden of proof Burden of proof is a legal duty that encompasses two connected but separate ideas that apply for establishing the truth of facts in a trial before tribunals in the United States: the "burden of production" and the "burden of persuasion." In a leg ...
in a given situation, ranging from
reasonable suspicion Reasonable suspicion is a legal standard of proof in United States law The law of the United States comprises many levels of codified and uncodified forms of law, of which the most important is the United States Constitution, which prescribes the ...
to
preponderance of the evidence Burden of proof is a legal duty that encompasses two connected but separate ideas that apply for establishing the truth of facts in a trial before tribunals in the United States: the "burden of production" and the "burden of persuasion." In a lega ...
,
clear and convincing evidence Burden of proof is a legal duty that encompasses two connected but separate ideas that apply for establishing the truth of facts in a trial before tribunals in the United States: the "burden of production" and the "burden of persuasion." In a lega ...
, or
beyond a reasonable doubt Beyond a reasonable doubt is a legal standard of proof Burden of proof is a legal duty that encompasses two connected but separate ideas that apply for establishing the truth of facts in a trial before tribunals in the United States: the "burde ...
. There are several types of evidence, depending on the form or source. Evidence governs the use of
testimony In law and in religion, testimony is a solemn attestation as to the truth of a matter. Etymology The words "testimony" and "testify" both derive from the Latin word ''testis'', referring to the notion of a disinterested Third-party source, thir ...
(e.g., oral or written statements, such as an
affidavit An ( ; Medieval Latin Medieval Latin was the form of Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''commu ...
),
exhibit Exhibit may refer to: *Exhibit (legal), evidence in physical form brought before the court **Demonstrative evidence, exhibits and other physical forms of evidence used in court to demonstrate, show, depict, inform or teach relevant information to t ...
s (e.g., physical objects), documentary material, or
demonstrative evidence Demonstrative evidence is evidence in the form of a representation Representation may refer to: Law and politics *Representation (politics) Political representation is the activity of making citizens "present" in public policy making processes wh ...
, which are admissible (i.e., allowed to be considered by the
trier of fact A trier of fact, or finder of fact, is a person, or group of persons, who determines what fact A fact is something that is true True most commonly refers to truth Truth is the property of being in accord with fact or reality.Merriam ...
, such as
jury A jury is a sworn body of people (the jurors) convened to render an impartial Impartiality (also called evenhandedness or fair-mindedness) is a principle of justice holding that decisions should be based on objectivity (philosophy), objective ...

jury
) in a judicial or administrative proceeding (e.g., a
court A court is any person or institution, often as a government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''Sta ...

court
of law). When a dispute, whether relating to a civil or criminal matter, reaches the court there will always be a number of issues which one party will have to prove in order to persuade the court to find in his or her favour. The law must ensure certain guidelines are set out in order to ensure that evidence presented to the court can be regarded as trustworthy.


History


Ancient and medieval law

The
Old Testament The Old Testament (often abbreviated OT) is the first division of the Christian biblical canon A biblical canon or canon of scripture is a set of texts (or "books") which a particular Jewish or Christian religious community regards as aut ...
demanded at least two witnesses for conviction of a crime. Ancient
Roman law Roman law is the law, legal system of ancient Rome, including the legal developments spanning over a thousand years of jurisprudence, from the Twelve Tables (c. 449 BC), to the ''Corpus Juris Civilis'' (AD 529) ordered by Eastern Roman emperor J ...
allowed freedom to judges to evaluate evidence, but insisted that "proof is incumbent on the party who affirms a fact, not on him who denies it" and "no-one should be convicted on suspicion". Medieval Roman law developed an elaborate grading of degrees of evidence. Building on the Biblical two-witness rule, it concluded that a single witness, or private documents, could constitute
half-proofHalf-proof ''(semiplena probatio)'' was a concept of medieval Roman law, describing a level of evidence Evidence, broadly construed, is anything presented in support of an assertion, because evident things are undoubted. There are two kind of ev ...
, which though insufficient for conviction might justify
torture Torture is the deliberate infliction of severe pain or suffering Suffering, or pain in a broad sense, may be an experience of unpleasantness and aversion associated with the perception of harm or threat of harm in an individual. Suffering i ...

torture
to extract further evidence. Because evidence in the continental (civil law) system was evaluated by judges rather than juries, that system did not develop exclusionary rules of evidence in the way English law did.


Anglophone (Common) law

A distinct feature of English
common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law Case law is the collection of past legal decisions written by courts and similar tribunal A tribunal, generally, is any person or institution with authority ...
historically was the role of the jury as a finder of fact, as opposed to the role of the judge as finder of law. The creation of modern jury trials in the 16th and 17th centuries necessitated rules of evidence to regulate what testimony and other evidence could be put before the jury. While much of the early common law evidence rules came from judicial decisions, the
English Parliament The Parliament of England was the legislature of the Kingdom of England from the mid 13th to 17th century. The first English Parliament was convened in 1215, with the creation and signing of the Magna Carta, which established the rights of b ...
also played a role. In 1677, Parliament and
the Crown The Crown is the state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper i ...

the Crown
enacted the Statute of Frauds and Perjuries, prohibiting plaintiffs from alleging certain contractual breaches to the jury unless accompanied by a signed, written instrument. Another early evidence rule was the prohibition on
hearsay Hearsay evidence Evidence for a proposition In logic and linguistics, a proposition is the meaning of a declarative sentence (linguistics), sentence. In philosophy, "Meaning (philosophy), meaning" is understood to be a non-linguistic entity ...
, the admission of an out-of-court statement to prove the truth of what is asserted. In the early 19th Century, Chief Justice
Lord Mansfield William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield, PC, SL (2 March 170520 March 1793) was a British barrister A barrister is a type of lawyer in common law jurisdiction (area), jurisdictions. Barristers mostly specialise in courtroom advocacy and litig ...

Lord Mansfield
of the
Court of Common Pleas A court of common pleas is a common kind of court structure found in various common law jurisdictions. The form originated with the Court of Common Pleas (England), Court of Common Pleas at Westminster, which was created to permit individuals to pr ...
stated:
"In Scotland and most of the continental states, the judges determine upon the facts in dispute as well as upon the law ; and they think there is no danger in their listening to evidence of hearsay, because, when they come to consider their judgment on the merits of the case, they can trust themselves entirely to disregard the hearsay evidence, or to give it any little weight which it may seem to deserve. But in England, where the jury are the sole judges of the fact, hearsay evidence is properly excluded, because no man can tell what effect it might have upon their minds."
Hearsay rules have subsequently been updated numerous times. Most recently in
England and Wales England and Wales () is a legal jurisdiction covering England and Wales, two of the four countries of the United Kingdom, parts of the United Kingdom. England and Wales forms the constitutional successor to the former Kingdom of England and follows ...

England and Wales
, the Civil Evidence Act 1995, section 1, specifically allows for admission of 'hearsay' evidence; legislation also allows for 'hearsay' evidence to be used in criminal proceedings, which makes it possible for the accuser to induce friends or family to give false evidence in support of their accusations because, normally, it would be rejected by the presiding authority or judge. There are several examples where presiding authorities are not bound by the rules of evidence. These include the
military tribunals in the United States Military tribunals in the United States are military courts designed to Trial (law), try members of enemy forces during wartime, operating outside the scope of conventional Criminal law, criminal and Private law, civil proceedings. The judges are ...
and tribunals used in
Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continent), Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous List of islands of Australia, sma ...

Australia
to try health professionals.


Relevance and social policy

In every jurisdiction based on the English common law tradition, evidence must conform to a number of rules and restrictions to be admissible. Evidence must be relevantthat is, it must be directed at proving or disproving a legal element. However, the relevance of evidence is ordinarily a necessary condition but not a sufficient condition for the admissibility of evidence. For example, relevant evidence may be excluded if it is unfairly prejudicial, confusing, or the relevance or irrelevance of evidence cannot be determined by logical analysis. There is also general agreement that assessment of relevance or irrelevance involves or requires judgements about probabilities or uncertainties. Beyond that, there is little agreement. Many legal scholars and judges agree that ordinary reasoning, or common sense reasoning, plays an important role. There is less agreement about whether or not judgements of relevance or irrelevance are defensible only if the reasoning that supports such judgements is made fully explicit. However, most trial judges would reject any such requirement and would say that some judgements can and must rest partly on unarticulated and unarticulable hunches and intuitions. However, there is general (though implicit) agreement that the relevance of at least some types of expert evidenceparticularly evidence from the hard sciencesrequires particularly rigorous, or in any event more arcane reasoning than is usually needed or expected. There is a general agreement that judgments of relevance are largely within the discretion of the trial courtalthough relevance rulings that lead to the exclusion of evidence are more likely to be reversed on appeal than are relevance rulings that lead to the admission of evidence. According to Rule 401 of the
Federal Rules of Evidence First adopted in 1975, the Federal Rules of Evidence codify the evidence law The law of evidence, also known as the rules of evidence, encompasses the rules and legal principles that govern the proof of fact A fact is an occurrence in ...
(FRE), evidence is relevant if it has the "tendency to make the existence of any fact that is of consequence to the determination of the action more probable or less probable than it would be without the evidence." Federal Rule 403 allows relevant evidence to be excluded "if its
probative Relevance, in the common law of evidence (law), evidence, is the tendency of a given item of evidence to prove or disprove one of the legal elements of the case, or to have probative value to make one of the elements of the case likelier or not. P ...
value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice", if it leads to confusion of the issues, if it is misleading or if it is a waste of time. California Evidence Code section 352 also allows for exclusion to avoid "substantial danger of undue prejudice." For example, evidence that the victim of a car accident was apparently a "liar, cheater, womanizer, and a man of low morals" was unduly prejudicial and irrelevant to whether he had a valid
product liability Product liability is the area of law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its envir ...
claim against the manufacturer of the tires on his van (which had rolled over resulting in severe brain damage).


Presence or absence of a jury

The United States has a very complicated system of evidentiary rules; for example,
John Wigmore John Henry Wigmore (1863–1943) was an American lawyer and Jurist, legal scholar known for his expertise in the law of evidence and for his influential scholarship. Wigmore taught law at Keio University in Tokyo (1889–1892) before becoming the ...
's celebrated treatise on it filled ten volumes.
James Bradley Thayer James Bradley Thayer (January 15, 1831 – February 14, 1902) was an American legal theorist and educator. Life Born at Haverhill, Massachusetts Haverhill ( ) is a city in Essex County, Massachusetts, Essex County, Massachusetts, United State ...
reported in 1898 that even English lawyers were surprised by the complexity of American evidence law, such as its reliance on exceptions to preserve evidentiary objections for appeal. Some legal experts, notably Stanford legal historian Lawrence Friedman, have argued that the complexity of American evidence law arises from two factors: (1) the right of American defendants to have findings of fact made by a jury in practically all criminal cases as well as many civil cases; and (2) the widespread consensus that tight limitations on the admissibility of evidence are necessary to prevent a jury of untrained laypersons from being swayed by irrelevant distractions. In Professor Friedman's words: "A trained judge would not need all these rules; and indeed, the law of evidence in systems that lack a jury is short, sweet, and clear." However, Friedman's views are characteristic of an earlier generation of legal scholars. The majority of people now reject the formerly-popular proposition that the institution of trial by jury is the main reason for the existence of rules of evidence even in countries such as the United States and Australia; they argue that are at work.


Exclusion of evidence


Unfairness

Under
English law English law is the common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written opinions. ''Blac ...
, evidence that would otherwise be admissible at trial may be excluded at the discretion of the trial judge if it would be unfair to the defendant to admit it. Evidence of a confession may be excluded because it was obtained by oppression or because the confession was made in consequence of anything said or done to the defendant that would be likely to make the confession unreliable. In these circumstances, it would be open to the trial judge to exclude the evidence of the confession under Section 78(1) of the
Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) (1984 c. 60) is an Act of Parliament Acts of parliament, sometimes referred to as primary legislation, are texts of law passed by the Legislature, legislative body of a jurisdiction (often a parli ...
(PACE), or under Section 73 PACE, or under common law, although in practice the confession would be excluded under section 76 PACE. Other admissible evidence may be excluded, at the discretion of the trial judge under 78 PACE, or at common law, if the judge can be persuaded that having regard to all the circumstances including how the evidence was obtained "admission of the evidence would have such an adverse effect on the fairness of the proceedings that the court ought not to admit it." In the United States and other countries, evidence may be excluded from a trial if it is the result of illegal activity by law enforcement, such as a search conducted without a warrant. Such illegal evidence is known as the
fruit of the poisonous tree Fruit of the poisonous tree is a legal metaphor A metaphor is a figure of speech A figure of speech or rhetorical figure is a word or phrase that entails an intentional deviation from ordinary language use in order to produce a rhetoric ...
and is normally not permitted at trial.


Authentication

Certain kinds of evidence, such as documentary evidence, are subject to the requirement that the offeror provide the trial judge with a certain amount of evidence (which need not be much and it need not be very strong) suggesting that the offered item of tangible evidence (e.g., a document, a gun) is what the offeror claims it is. This
authentication Authentication (from ''authentikos'', "real, genuine", from αὐθέντης ''authentes'', "author") is the act of proof (truth), proving an Logical assertion, assertion, such as the Digital identity, identity of a computer system user. In ...
requirement has import primarily in jury trials. If evidence of authenticity is lacking in a bench trial, the trial judge will simply dismiss the evidence as unpersuasive or irrelevant. Other kinds of evidence can be self-authenticating and require nothing to prove that the item is tangible evidence. Examples of self-authenticating evidence includes signed and certified public documents, newspapers, and acknowledged documents.


Witnesses

In systems of proof based on the English common law tradition, almost all evidence must be sponsored by a
witness In law, a witness is someone who has knowledge about a matter, whether they have sensed it or are testifying on another witnesses' behalf. In law a witness is someone who, either voluntarily or under compulsion, provides testimonial evidence, ei ...
, who has sworn or solemnly affirmed to tell the truth. The bulk of the law of evidence regulates the types of evidence that may be sought from witnesses and the manner in which the interrogation of witnesses is conducted such as during
direct examination The direct examination or examination-in-chief is one stage in the process of adducing evidence from witnesses in a court of law. Direct examination is the questioning of a witness by the party who called him or her, in a trial (law), trial. D ...
and
cross-examination In law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described b ...
of witnesses. Other types of evidentiary rules specify the standards of persuasion (e.g., proof beyond a reasonable doubt) that a trier of fact—whether judge or jury—must apply when it assesses evidence. Today all persons are presumed to be qualified to serve as witnesses in trials and other legal proceedings, and all persons are also presumed to have a legal obligation to serve as witnesses if their testimony is sought. However, legal rules sometimes exempt people from the obligation to give evidence and legal rules disqualify people from serving as witnesses under some circumstances.
Privilege Privilege may refer to: Arts and entertainment * ''Privilege'' (film), a 1967 film directed by Peter Watkins * ''Privilege'' (Ivor Cutler album), 1983 * ''Privilege'' (Television Personalities album), 1990 * ''Privilege (Abridged) ''Privile ...
rules give the holder of the privilege a right to prevent a witness from giving testimony. These privileges are ordinarily (but not always) designed to protect socially valued types of confidential communications. Some of the privileges that are often recognized in various U.S. jurisdictions are
spousal privilege In the common law, spousal privilege (also called marital privilege or husband-wife privilege) is a term used in the law of evidence to describe two separate privileges that apply to spouses: the spousal communications privilege and the spousal ...
,
attorney–client privilege Attorney–client privilege or lawyer–client privilege is the name given to the common law concept of legal professional privilege in the United States. Attorney-client privilege is " client's right to refuse to disclose and to prevent any ...
, doctor–patient privilege, state secrets privilege, and clergy–penitent privilege. A variety of additional privileges are recognized in different jurisdictions, but the list of recognized privileges varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction; for example, some jurisdictions recognize a social worker–client privilege and other jurisdictions do not. Witness competence rules are legal rules that specify circumstances under which persons are ineligible to serve as witnesses. For example, neither a judge nor a juror is competent to testify in a trial in which the judge or the juror serves in that capacity; and in jurisdictions with a dead man statute, a person is deemed not competent to testify as to statements of or transactions with a deceased opposing party. Often, a Government or Parliamentary Act will govern the rules affecting the giving of evidence by witnesses in court. An example is the ''Evidence Act (NSW)'' 1995 which sets out the procedures for witnesses to follow in New South Wales, Australia.


Hearsay

Hearsay Hearsay evidence Evidence for a proposition In logic and linguistics, a proposition is the meaning of a declarative sentence (linguistics), sentence. In philosophy, "Meaning (philosophy), meaning" is understood to be a non-linguistic entity ...
is one of the largest and most complex areas of the law of evidence in common-law jurisdictions. The default rule is that hearsay evidence is inadmissible. Hearsay is an out of court statement offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted. A party is offering a statement to prove the truth of the matter asserted if the party is trying to prove that the assertion made by the declarant (the maker of the out-of-trial statement) is true. For example, prior to trial Bob says, "Jane went to the store." If the party offering this statement as evidence at trial is trying to prove that Jane actually went to the store, the statement is being offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted. However, at both common law and under evidence codifications such as the
Federal Rules of Evidence First adopted in 1975, the Federal Rules of Evidence codify the evidence law The law of evidence, also known as the rules of evidence, encompasses the rules and legal principles that govern the proof of fact A fact is an occurrence in ...
, there are dozens of exemptions from and exceptions to the hearsay rule.


Direct vs. circumstantial evidence

Direct evidence Direct evidence supports the truth of an assertion (in criminal law, an assertion of guilt or of innocence) directly, i.e., without an intervening inference. Circumstantial evidence, by contrast, consists of a fact or set of facts which, if proven, ...
is any evidence that directly proves or disproves a fact. The most well-known type of direct evidence is a testimony from an eyewitness. In eye-witness testimonies the witness states exactly what they experienced, saw, or heard. Direct evidence may also be found in the form of documents. In cases that involve a breach of contract, the contract itself would be considered direct evidence as it can directly prove or disprove that there was breach of contract.
Circumstantial evidence Circumstantial evidence is evidence that relies on an inference to connect it to a conclusion of fact—such as a fingerprint at the scene of a crime. By contrast, direct evidence supports the truth of an assertion directly—i.e., without need f ...

Circumstantial evidence
, however, is evidence that does not point directly to a fact and requires an inference in order to prove that fact. A common example of the distinction between direct and circumstantial evidence involves a person who comes into a building, when it may be raining. If the person declares, "It's raining outside", that statement is direct evidence that it is raining. If the person is carrying a wet umbrella, and he is wearing a wet rain coat, those observations are circumstantial evidence that it is raining outside.


Burdens of proof

Different types of proceedings require parties to meet different burdens of proof, the typical examples being beyond a reasonable doubt, clear and convincing evidence, and preponderance of the evidence. Many jurisdictions have burden-shifting provisions, which require that if one party produces evidence tending to prove a certain point, the burden shifts to the other party to produce superior evidence tending to disprove it. One special category of information in this area includes things of which the court may take
judicial notice Judicial notice is a rule in the law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its enviro ...
. This category covers matters that are so well known that the court may deem them proved without the introduction of ''any'' evidence. For example, if a defendant is alleged to have illegally transported goods across a state line by driving them from
Boston Boston (, ), officially the City of Boston, is the capital city, capital and List of municipalities in Massachusetts, most populous city of the Commonwealth (U.S. state), Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the United States and 21st List of Unit ...

Boston
to
Los Angeles Los Angeles ( ; xgf, Tovaangar; es, Los Ángeles, , ), commonly referred to by the initialism An acronym is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be u ...

Los Angeles
, the court may take judicial notice of the fact that it is impossible to drive from Boston to Los Angeles without crossing a number of state lines. In a civil case, where the court takes judicial notice of the fact, that fact is deemed conclusively proved. In a criminal case, however, the defense may always submit evidence to rebut a point for which judicial notice has been taken.


Evidentiary rules stemming from other areas of law

Some rules that affect the admissibility of evidence are nonetheless considered to belong to other areas of law. These include the
exclusionary rule In the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washi ...
of
criminal procedure Criminal procedure is the adjudication Adjudication is the legal process by which an arbitration, arbiter or judge reviews evidence (law), evidence and argumentation, including legal reasoning set forth by opposing parties or litigants, to come ...
, which prohibits the admission in a criminal trial of evidence gained by unconstitutional means, and the
parol evidence rule The parol evidence rule is a rule in the Anglo-American common law that governs what kinds of evidence parties to a contract dispute can introduce when trying to determine the specific terms of a contract. The rule also prevents parties who have ...
of
contract law A contract is a legally binding agreement that defines and governs the rights and duties between or among its parties Image:'Hip, Hip, Hurrah! Artist Festival at Skagen', by Peder Severin Krøyer (1888) Demisted with DXO PhotoLab Clearview ...
, which prohibits the admission of extrinsic evidence of the contents of a written contract.


Evidence as an area of study

In countries that follow the
civil law system Civil law is a legal system The contemporary national legal systems are generally based on one of four basic systems: civil law, common law, statutory law, religious law or combinations of these. However, the legal system of each country is ...
, evidence is normally studied as a branch of
procedural law Procedural law, adjective law, in some jurisdictions referred to as remedial law, or rules of court comprises the rules by which a court A court is any person or institution, often as a government A government is the system or g ...
. All American
law school A law school (also known as a law centre or college of law) is an institution specializing in legal education Legal education is the education of individuals in the principles, practices, and theory of law Law is a system A syste ...
s offer a course in evidence, and most require the subject either as a first year class, or as an upper-level class, or as a prerequisite to later courses. Furthermore, evidence is heavily tested on the
Multistate Bar Examination Bar examinations in the United States are examinations administered to candidates for admission to the bar in U.S. states and territories. Bar exams are administered by states or territories, generally by agencies under the authority of state sup ...
(MBE) - approximately one-sixth of the questions asked in that test will be in the area of evidence. The MBE predominantly tests evidence under the
Federal Rules of Evidence First adopted in 1975, the Federal Rules of Evidence codify the evidence law The law of evidence, also known as the rules of evidence, encompasses the rules and legal principles that govern the proof of fact A fact is an occurrence in ...
, giving little attention to matters on which the law of different states is likely to be inconsistent.


Tampering, falsification, and spoliation

Acts that conceal, corrupt, or destroy evidence can be considered
spoliation of evidenceTampering with evidence, or evidence tampering, is an act in which a person alters, conceals, falsifies, or destroys evidence (law), evidence with the intent to interfere with an investigation (usually) by a law-enforcement, governmental, or regulato ...
and/or
tampering with evidenceTampering with evidence, or evidence tampering, is an act in which a person alters, conceals, falsifies, or destroys evidence Evidence, broadly construed, is anything presented in support of an assertion, because evident things are undoubted. The ...
. Spoliation is usually the civil-law/ due-process variant, may involve
intent Intentions are mental states A mental state, or a mental property, is a state of mind of a person. Mental states comprise a diverse class including perception, pain experience, belief, desire, intention, emotion, and memory. There is controversy co ...
or
negligence Negligence (Lat. ''negligentia'') is a failure to exercise appropriate and/or ethical ruled care expected to be exercised amongst specified circumstances. The area of tort A tort, in common law In law, common law (also known as judicial ...
, may affect the outcome of a case in which the evidence is material, and may or may not result in
criminal In ordinary language, a crime is an unlawful act punishable by a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper ...
prosecution A prosecutor is a legal representative of the prosecution in states with either the common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law Case law is the collection of past legal decisions written by co ...
. Tampering is usually the
criminal law Criminal law is the body of law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its env ...
variant in which a person alters, conceals, falsifies, or destroys evidence to interfere with a law-enforcement, governmental, or regulatory investigation, and is usually defined as a
crime In ordinary language, a crime is an unlawful act punishable by a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper ...

crime
.
Parallel construction Parallel construction is a law enforcement process of building a parallel, or separate, evidentiary basis for a criminal investigation in order to conceal how an investigation actually began. In the US, a particular form is evidence launderin ...
is the creation of an untruthful, but plausible, explanation for how the evidence came to be held, which hides its true origins, either to protect sources and methods used, or to avoid the evidence being excluded as unlawfully obtained. Depending on the circumstances, acts to conceal or destroy evidence or misrepresent its true origins might be considered both tampering and spoliation.


By jurisdiction

*
Canada Evidence Act The ''Canada Evidence Act'' (the Act) is an Act of the Parliament of Canada The Parliament of Canada (french: Parlement du Canada) is the Canadian federalism, federal legislature of Canada, seated at Parliament Hill in Ottawa, and is composed o ...
*
Evidence Act 2006 The Evidence Act 2006 is an Act of Parliament, Act of the Parliament of New Zealand that codifies the evidence (law), laws of evidence. When enacted, the Act drew together the common law and statutory provisions relating to evidence into one compr ...
(New Zealand) *
Federal Rules of Evidence First adopted in 1975, the Federal Rules of Evidence codify the evidence law The law of evidence, also known as the rules of evidence, encompasses the rules and legal principles that govern the proof of fact A fact is an occurrence in ...
(United States)


See also

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Adverse inferenceAdverse inference is a legal Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is ...
*
Anecdotal evidence Anecdotal evidence is evidence from anecdotes: evidence collected in a casual or informal manner and relying heavily or entirely on personal testimony. The term is sometimes used in a legal context to describe certain kinds of testimony which a ...
*
Discovery (law) Discovery, in the law of common law jurisdictions, is a pre-trial procedure in a lawsuit A lawsuit is a proceeding by a party or parties against another in the civil court of law. The archaic term "suit in law" is found in only a small ...
*
Electronic discovery Electronic discovery (also e-discovery or ediscovery) refers to discovery Discovery may refer to: * Discovery (observation) Discovery is the act of detecting something new, or something previously unrecognized as meaningful. With reference to ...
*
Evidence under Bayes theorem The use of evidence under Bayes' theorem relates to the probability of finding evidence in relation to the accused, where Bayes' theorem concerns the probability of an event and its inverse. Specifically, it compares the probability of finding par ...
*
Falsified evidence False evidence, fabricated evidence, forged evidence or tainted evidence is information created or obtained illegally, to sway the verdict in a court case. Falsified evidence could be created by either side in a case (including the police/prosecu ...
*
Forensic animationComputational criminology is an interdisciplinary field which uses computing science methods to formally define criminology concepts, improve our understanding of complex phenomena, and generate solutions for related problems. Methods Computing scie ...
*
Omnibus hearing An omnibus hearing is a Pre-trial hearing, pretrial hearing. It is usually held soon after a defendant's arraignment. The main purpose of the hearing is to determine the Evidence (law), evidence, including testimony and evidence seized at the time ...
*
Proof (truth) A proof is sufficient evidence Evidence for a proposition is what supports this proposition. It is usually understood as an indication that the supported proposition is true. What role evidence plays and how it is conceived varies from field ...
*
Silent witness ruleThe silent witness rule is the use of "substitutions" when referring to sensitive information in the United States open courtroom jury trial system. The phrase was first used in US v. Zettl, in 1987. An example of a substitution method is the use of ...
*
Spectral evidence Spectral evidence is a form of evidence based upon dreams and vision (religion), visions. It was admitted into court during the Salem witch trials by the appointed chief justice, William Stoughton (Massachusetts), William Stoughton. The booklet ''A ...
testimony about ghosts or apparitions in the
Salem witch trials The Salem witch trials were a series of hearings and prosecutions of people accused of witchcraft in Province of Massachusetts Bay, colonial Massachusetts between February 1692 and May 1693. More than two hundred people were accused. Thirty ...
* Strict rules of evidence *
Ultimate issue (law) An ultimate issue in criminal law Criminal law is the body of law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, ...


References


External links

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U.S. Federal Rules of Evidence Online
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