When it comes to criminal investigations and prosecutions, the evidence is critical. Since defendants are not supposed to be convicted of crimes unless “proven” guilty, the evidence is absolutely essential as proof of guilt. In our criminal justice system, law enforcement and our government have a duty to defendants to collect and preserve certain types of evidence. This duty protects those who are facing criminal prosecution from being convicted of crimes they didn’t commit.
Examples of criminal evidence:
- A defendant’s confessions
- Eye-witness accounts
- Evidence obtained through a wiretap
- DNA evidence, such as hair, fingerprints blood, saliva, semen, etc.
- Footprints or tire tracks
- Drugs or drug paraphernalia
- Weapons used to commit a crime
Will the Case Be Dismissed?
In some criminal cases, the defendant’s attorney will ask the judge not to include certain evidence during their client’s trial. Well in advance of the defendant’s trial, the defense will file what is called a “motion to suppress evidence.”
If the defense’s motion is approved by the judge, the prosecution may not have a case and the prosecutor or the judge may move to dismiss the case. Is a dismissal guaranteed if a motion to suppress is approved? It’s not guaranteed; it depends on how important that evidence was to the prosecution. If there is no case without the evidence, a dismissal is more likely.
Even though most types of evidence can be used at trial, not all evidence is permitted. For example, out of court testimony (under the Sixth Amendment defendants can confront their accusers), character evidence (referring to the defendant), and statements made by defendants during plea bargaining cannot be used as evidence at trial. Also, defendants have the right to refuse to take the stand at trial to protect themselves against self-incrimination.