Thursday, May 13, 2010

Law of Evidence

Items that are subject to confiscation are determined by the Criminal Procedure Act. There are three classes of physical evidence that may be subject to confiscation, these items are:

1. items that are involved or assumed to be involved in a criminal offence or assumed criminal offence, within the Republic or elsewhere.
2. that can be used as proof of the criminal offence or assumed criminal offence in the Republic or elsewhere.
3. items that destined to be used or assumed to be used in committing a criminal offence or assumed criminal offence

The law of evidence governs the use of testimony, and exhibits, or other documentary material which is admissible in a criminal proceeding. Physical evidence is any evidence introduced in a trial in the form of a physical object, intended to prove a fact in issue based on its demonstrable physical characteristics. Physical evidence can conceivably include all or part of any object.

In a murder trial for example, the physical evidence might include biological evidence such as DNA left by the attacker on the victim's body, the body itself, the weapon used, pieces of carpet spattered with blood, or casts of footprints or tire prints found at the scene of the crime.

Evidence can be defined as something legally submitted to a court of law as a means of determining the truth. Physical evidence deals with material objects. The law of evidence governs the use of testimony, and exhibits, or other documentary material which is admissible in a criminal proceeding.

It may be material left or taken from the scene of a crime by the suspect or victim, or it might be an impression left in some material. Unlike oral testimony, it is not influenced by the stress of the moment; it does not forget. Physical evidence can aid in solving the case by developing modus operandi, by developing suspects, by proving or disproving alibis, by eliminating suspects or connecting suspects to the crime, by identifying the source of stolen materials, and by providing investigative leads. Physical evidence is often necessary to prove that a crime had been committed.

Certain kinds of evidence, such as documentary evidence, are subject to the requirement that the forensic investigator provide the Court with a certain amount of evidence suggesting that the offered item of physical evidence (for example a document) is what the forensic investigator claims it is. The authentication requirement has bite primarily in criminal proceedings. If evidence of authenticity is lacking in a trail, the Court will simply dismiss the evidence as unpersuasive or irrelevant.

Almost all evidence is sponsored by a witness, who has sworn or solemnly affirmed to tell the truth. Today all persons are presumed to be qualified to serve as witnesses in trials and other legal proceedings, and all persons are also presumed to have a legal obligation to serve as witnesses if their testimony is sought. However, legal rules sometimes exempt people from the obligation to give evidence and legal rules disqualify people from serving as witnesses under some circumstances.

Privilege rules give the holder of the privilege a right to prevent a witness from giving testimony. These privileges are ordinarily (but not always) designed to protect socially valued types of confidential communications. Some of the privileges that are often recognized are the marital secrets privilege, the adverse spousal testimony privilege, the attorney-client privilege, the doctor-patient privilege, the psychotherapist-patient and counselor-patient privilege, the state secrets privilege and the clergy-penitent privilege. A variety of additional privileges are recognized in different jurisdictions, but the list of recognized privileges varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction; for example, some jurisdictions recognize a social worker-client privilege and other jurisdictions do not.

Hearsay is one of the largest and most complex areas of the law of evidence in common-law jurisdictions. The default rule is that hearsay evidence is inadmissible. Hearsay is an out of court statement offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted. A party is offering a statement to prove the truth of the matter asserted if the party is trying to prove that the assertion made by the declarant is true. For example, prior to trial Bob says, "Jane went to the store." If the party offering this statement as evidence at trial is trying to prove that Jane actually went to the store, the statement is being offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted. However, there are dozens of exclusions from and exceptions to the hearsay rule.

The importance of physical evidence is that it: "can't lie, quit, die, forget, or get fired". Physical evidence can not change, and that is what is needed to find someone guilty of a criminal offence.

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