Published On: Tue, Sep 11th, 2018

The Three Types of Evidence that Weaken a Criminal Charge

Once a crime is committed, the government is automatically under pressure to bring the culprit to justice. This pressure to immediately close a case is sometimes enough to push some government prosecutors to just choose an unlikely suspect and pin culpability on them. There are just too many documented cases of mistrials and wrong convictions.  

Photo/Nodar Kherkheulidze via wikimedia commons

Good thing the courts do not just dish out punishments to the accused. Judges and members of the jury must examine pieces of evidence thoroughly before making conclusions. Discussed in the subsections below are the types of evidence that can be most easily refuted to end unfair prosecution.

Criminal defense lawyers attack these types of proof to poke holes on the criminal charges levelled against their clients.

Hearsay Evidence

Hearsay evidence basically pertains to those statements that bear second-hand information. For example, Person A may testify that while he was not in the scene of the crime when it happened, he did hear Person B admit to being the one who committed the crime. While statements like this can still bear reasonable weight, the fact that the reporting person was not at the scene of the crime is a serious flaw.

The courts usually give primacy to eye witnesses, or those who were really there as the crime unfolded, and bearers of second-hand information are usually subjected to intense scrutiny.

Circumstantial Evidence

The evidence presented by members of the prosecution is sometimes circumstantial, or indirect. Such evidence does not at all prove that the accused really did the crime. What it does prove or support is another fact that the prosecution believes will make it possible for the person to have committed the crime.

A good example of a circumstantial evidence is a video footage that shows the defendant entering the crime scene at around the time the crime was committed. While this convincingly asserts that the defendant was really at the site, it falls short at establishing culpability. Unless the defendant made earlier claims that is belied by the footage, such a footage only does so much to destroy the defense. A good and serious defense lawyer can easily find ways to get out of this.

Testimonial Evidence

The prosecution usually relies on sworn statements to build their case. While testimonies are not necessarily useless, without corroborating physical evidence they just can’t stand up to cross-examination.

Good defense lawyers are trained to find and highlight malicious intent on the part of the person giving the statement. They may even be successful at demonstrating that the witness has something to gain from giving statements, so he or she may have other motivations than just telling the truth. All these weaken the testimony and can absolve even the guilty.  

It’s not really the end of the world when criminal charges are put against you. Trials take time and convictions are based solely on pieces of evidence and their relative strengths. There are proofs that are hard to counter, but there are also those that are easily rebutted as discussed here.

Even the weakest of evidence can get someone convicted if they do not get the help of an experienced, serious criminal defense lawyer. Hiring the right lawyer is therefore always part of the winning strategy.

Author Bio – Vaan is a Psychology Major who is also an aspiring lawyer. He has about 15 years of writing experience and a passion for all things Law, Psychology, Sociology, Technology, and Fashion-related. When he isn’t typing away on his computer, he spends his time lifting at the local gym, honing his skills in Muay Thai, reading a good book, or shopping for the latest hyped-up sneakers.

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