What is Demonstrative Evidence?

  • August 19, 2016
    What is Demonstrative Evidence?

    In court trials evidence is typically classified as either demonstrative or substantive evidence. Demonstrative evidence is a representation of evidence rather than the evidence itself. It is defined as evidence that appeals only to a jury’s or judge’s senses and does not require any testimony to back it up. Thus, it demonstrates the crime without any additional information needed. However, it is often used as a way to reinforce previous oral testimony provided by a witness. It is a way for attorneys to appeal to multiple senses of the jury in an attempt to solidify their case.

    Types of Demonstrative Evidence
    There are many types of demonstrative evidence which is used daily in both jury trials and those presided over by a judge. Some of the most common forms of demonstrative evidence include videotapes, charts, graphs, computer animations, videos, photos, x-rays, movies, audio recordings, diagrams and maps. These examples of demonstrative evidence do not have be perfect replicas or representations of the crime. The law only requires that they be similar. Demonstrative evidence can also be real evidence. Real evidence is something that can be directly linked to an actual crime, such as the weapon that was used.

    Admitting Demonstrative Evidence
    Before the defense or prosecution can use demonstrative evidence in their arguments, a judge has to rule whether the evidence is relevant to the case. As this type of evidence is highly visual, it often creates a larger impact with juries. For this reason, judges carefully weigh whether the evidence is pertinent and whether anything can be gained from it. If the judge determines that the demonstrative evidence would create unfair prejudice, he can rule it inadmissible.

    The Role of Demonstrative Evidence in Jury Trials
    If something is admitted as demonstrative evidence juries can examine it more carefully and even ask to review again it during the deliberation process. In some cases, they can ask additional questions about the evidence. If a judge rules not to admit something as demonstrative evidence the attorney can still use it as a prop during their arguments. However, the jury cannot re-examine the object or ask any further questions about it during their deliberations.

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