Admissibility of Evidence in Las Vegas Criminal Cases
In trial proceedings, cases are made or broken by the evidence presented by both the defense and the prosecution. The viability of a single piece of evidence can be enough to turn a losing case around, or further implicate a defendant towards a conviction. For criminal defense attorneys in Las Vegas and elsewhere, the evidence is the key to ensure that their clients can score a case dismissal, or at least a lower sentence.
Evidence comes in all forms, and plays various roles depending on the complaint and the situation at hand. The different evidence types and terms used can be confusing for the average individual who doesn’t really dabble in law. This article will be focusing on admissible evidence, one of the most common evidence-related terms that defendants are bound to here from their counsels.
The What’s and Why’s
Admissible evidence is defined as any form of tangible evidence that can be used in a court of law. Its primary purpose is to support the provider’s argument—a conviction for the prosecution or an acquittal for the defense. A material can only be considered admissible to a case if it meets the following criteria:
- It is relevant to the case at hand
- It is not unfairly prejudicial to either party
- It must have some indication of reliability, meaning it must be proven to hold its own merit as evidence for the current case
On top of these criteria, a piece of evidence can only be considered admissible unless contradicted by The Constitution, Federal statutes, Federal and State rules on evidence, and other rules prescribed by the Supreme Court. Other matters can also keep an evidence from being admissible, despite its relevancy to the case.
The Matter of Admissibility
It can be easy to rule out the admissibility of any entered evidence. Aside from the matter of unjust prejudice, the court can declare a piece of evidence as inadmissible if:
- It wastes the court’s time
- Intentionally or accidentally misleading from the actual proceedings
- Is composed of non-corroborated hearsay
- Is an attack on the opposing party’s character; or
- If it is presented as expert testimony but is actually provided by a lay person with no connection to the expertise claimed
Nevada defines its own criteria for admissibility of evidence in Chapter 48 of its revised statutes. Its early sections define admissible and relevant evidence as they are defined in Federal records, as per the usual course for these statutes. Later sections elaborate on key aspects that can affect the admissibility of evidence outside of legal documents and statutes. Some notable examples include:
- Admissibility of a testimony provided by a witness that previously underwent clinical hypnosis to retrace certain details from the alleged crime is wholly reliant on the qualification of the person who admitted the hypnosis.
- Evidence related to habits or routine practice are often admissible, although it has to be backed up by sufficient testimony.
- The defendant can enter evidence questioning the plaintiff’s previous sexual conduct if the court finds sufficient warrant to do so.
- ‘Wiretapped’ calls and ‘hacked’ emails can be admissible in a case provided that they do not violate Federal and State laws on lawfully-intercepted communications.
- Liability insurance is not admissible for evidence in, say, a DUI case unless it is used to determine ownership or witness bias.
These are just a number of admissibility statutes that would be frequently encountered by defendants facing such crimes as sexual assault, DUI, bad checks, or domestic violence in Las Vegas. They can help a potential defendant to face any similar charge with reliable evidence and ensure acquittal.
Admissible Evidence and the Defense
What does and does not constitute as admissible evidence is an important factor that determines the course of action for the defense. The defendant must keep in mind that the exceptions to admissibility stated in the previous section are administered strictly by Las Vegas courts; if he or she provides evidence that is misleading or outright wastes the jury and the court’s time, his or her chances of acquittal are severely diminished.
On the flipside, the defense must keep an eye out for evidence that the prosecution can pass off as admissible, but are actually not. This aspect is often handled by the criminal defense lawyer, who scrutinizes each piece of evidence presented and can easily find any glaring inconsistencies in their validity. Weakening the validity of the prosecution’s evidence can help a huge way in ensuring the case is dismissed.
Admissible evidence acts as a vital weapon in defending a person’s innocence; knowing what constitutes as admissible or not goes a long way in shortening the trial process. Always communicate with the defense attorney on matters concerning evidence to avoid making blunders that can affect the chances of an acquittal.