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What is Real Evidence?

The court system uses many terms that, while they may seem simple, are quite complicated to the every-day individual. For all the crime dramas we watch on television, there may still be legal terms that we don’t fully understand. One of these terms is “real evidence”. Learn what real evidence is and how it’s used in court cases.

What is Real Evidence?

Real evidence is an object or actual thing that can be touched. It’s something that can be used as evidence on its own without the need for witnesses or other testimony. Real evidence is a term used to describe physical evidence used in a court case. It’s an object that had a part in an incident or specific crime. An example of real evidence in a murder trial would be the actual gun that was used to kill the victim.

Real evidence is probably the most important type of evidence in a court trial. We’ve all watched crime shows on television where the police believe a murder has been committed and may even believe they know who committed the crime but can’t proceed because they don’t have a body. In this case, the body would be real evidence.

Real Evidence vs Demonstrative Evidence

As stated above, real evidence is a specific thing that we can see and touch. In the case of a court or jury trial, evidence generally falls under one of two categories: real evidence or demonstrative evidence. We’ve already gone over what constitutes real evidence. Real evidence must be a material thing that can be brought before the jury or the judge.

Demonstrative evidence, on the other hand, is a type of evidence that illustrates or “demonstrates” a witness’s testimony. If a witness is describing the location of a murder victim and presents a map to show the location, the map is considered demonstrative evidence. Diagrams or drawings of a crime scene or x-rays of the victim are examples of demonstrative evidence that’s used to backup the testimony of a witness.

Is Real Evidence the Same as Physical Evidence?

For evidence to be considered real evidence, it must be a physical object. Therefore, in the case of a crime, real evidence is the same as physical evidence. In court cases, examples of real or physical evidence might be a weapon, fingerprints, fibers, blood, hair, glass or drugs, among other things.

What is NOT Real Evidence

Now that we’ve gone over what is real evidence, well’ discuss what’s NOT real evidence. Just about anything that’s not a physical thing would not be physical evidence. A diagram of a crime scene would not be considered physical evidence. We’ve all watched trials on television where a witness repeats something they’ve heard and the opposing attorney shouts, “objection, hearsay!”.

While the testimony may be evidence of what someone saw or heard, it’s not physical evidence. A witness’s testimony of what they saw, heard or believe is often subjective in nature and, therefore, cannot be considered as real evidence. Although testimonies, descriptions of crimes and demonstrative evidence all provide help in trials, nothing is as concrete as real evidence.

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