Legal Dictionary



Evidence means testimony, writings, material objects, or other things presented to the senses that are offered to prove the existence or non-existence of a fact. Evidence has many categories, including:

  • Admissible evidence, which is relevant and not tainted (e.g., not unfairly prejudicial or based on hearsay) and should be received by the court; it is also referred to as “competent evidence.”
  • Best evidence, which is the highest quality available (e.g., the original document instead of a copy).
  • Character evidence, which shows a person's moral character, personality traits or reputation.
  • Circumstantial evidence, which is based on inferences, not on a person's personal knowledge or experience.
  • Clear and convincing evidence, which is highly probable, but does not have to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
  • Conclusive evidence, which is so strong that it overwhelms any contrary evidence; although it is not irrebuttable, it obliges the fact-finder to come to a particular conclusion; it is also referred to as “conclusive proof.”
  • Corroborating evidence, which confirms or strengthens other evidence.
  • Credible evidence, which is believable and trustworthy.
  • Cumulative evidence, which is of similar character and additional to other evidence.
  • Demonstrative evidence, which is physical evidence that can be seen and inspected (e.g., a map or photograph).
  • Derivative evidence, which has been discovered through illegally obtained evidence, and is therefore inadmissible itself.
  • Direct evidence, which is based on a witness' personal knowledge or observation; if it is true, direct evidence proves the fact without inferences or presumptions.
  • Documentary evidence, which is an authenticated writing or other document.
  • Exculpatory evidence, which tends to prove a defendant's innocence.
  • Foundational evidence, which is introduced to determine the admissibility of other evidence.
  • Immaterial evidence, which lacks any probative value.
  • Insufficient evidence, which does not adequately prove something, resulting in no presumption being raised.
  • Intrinsic evidence, which is brought out through the testimony of a witness.
  • Negative evidence, which suggests that an alleged fact does not exist, for example, testimony that a witness did not see the crime occur.
  • Presumptive evidence, which is deemed sufficient and true unless challenged by other evidence.
  • Prima facie evidence, which establishes a fact unless contradicted.
  • Probative evidence, which tends to prove or disprove a point in issue.
  • Proffered evidence, which is offered to the court to determine its admissibility.
  • State's evidence, which is testimony provided by one defendant against another defendant offered for immunity or a reduced sentence.
  • Substantive evidence, which is offered to prove a fact at issue.

If you have an issue with evidence that is being introduced during pre-trial or trial, consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney to resolve your issue. It is preferable to seek the advice of an attorney that handles evidence issues on a regular basis.