Types of Evidence and How They Impact Your Case

March 19, 2021

Evidence is used in a trial to establish and prove or disprove specific facts about the case. They help prove if something is true or false by the information they provide. The accused’s fingerprint at the crime scene is a type of evidence that demonstrates that they were at that specific location but cannot necessarily prove when they were there. 

In this post, we’ll examine the different types of evidence used in court and look at how each type is used and how they could affect your case. 

What is The Canada Evidence Act?

The Canada Evidence Act is an act of parliament created in 1893 that regulated how evidence is used in a court under the federal domain for criminal matters or civil matters where the federal government has jurisdiction. In Ontario, most civil proceedings are under the provincial Evidence act. 

The evidence act lays out regulations for how evidence is used in court and what types are admissible. The basic rule is, the evidence presented must be: relevant to the case, must be material to the case (it must have some legal significance connected to the case), and there cannot be a legal rule that excludes it, such as with hearsay evidence. 

The Four Types of Evidence

There are different types of evidence considered at trial, and they don’t all carry the same weight or importance. It is up to a jury to listen to the evidence and weigh the information. 

1. Real Evidence

Real evidence is also known as physical evidence and includes fingerprints, bullet casings, a knife, DNA samples – things that a jury can see and touch. Real evidence usually proves or disproves facts in the case. 

To be admitted, real evidence must be relevant, material, and authentic. Lawyers must establish that the evidence belonged to the accused or was used in the crime. 

2. Demonstrative Evidence

Demonstrative Evidence can help illustrate or demonstrate the testimony of a witness. It can include a map of the crime scene or charts or images and pictures of the location that a witness describes. The demonstrative evidence needs to reflect the witness’s description accurately. 

3. Documentary Evidence

Documentary evidence is evidence introduced through documents instead of through oral witness accounts such as a diary entry, newspaper, or contract. With documentary evidence, it is essential to establish that the document is authentic and from a reliable source. 

4. Witness Testimony

Testimonial evidence is when a witness gets on the stand and says what they saw or heard under oath. 

What is Circumstantial Evidence?

Circumstantial evidence doesn’t directly prove a fact in a case but leads the jury to infer information about the fact based on the evidence. This is also known as indirect evidence. 

What is Hearsay, and is it Admissible in Court?

Hearsay is an out-of-court statement or non-verbal statement relayed by a witness that can’t be proven because the statements were not taken under oath, and the speaker is not present to be cross-examined. Hearsay is generally not admissible in court unless proven to a judge that the information is necessary and reliable. 

Probative vs. Prejudicial Evidence

For evidence to be admissible, it must prove or disprove the facts in the case (probative value), and this must carry more weight than the evidence’s prejudicial value. Prejudicial evidence is when there is a significant risk of misuse of the information by the jury, or the evidence is too misleading, confusing or distracting. 

Get Help With Your Toronto Criminal Defence Today

If you are being investigated for a crime or have questions about the different types of evidence and how they could impact your case, talk to an experienced criminal defence lawyer like William Jaksa today. William Jaksa has over a decade of experience defending clients in Toronto and can help you understand your options and put together the right team to defend your case.

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