Skip to Content

What is the best evidence to present in court?

Evidence is crucial in any court case. The evidence presented can make or break a case, so it is important to understand what constitutes good evidence and how to present it effectively. This article will provide an overview of the types of evidence and what makes for the “best” evidence in court. It will also offer tips on how to properly present evidence to make the strongest argument.

What are the different types of evidence?

There are several categories of evidence that may be presented in court:

Direct Evidence

Direct evidence directly proves a fact. Some examples are:

– Eyewitness testimony – An eyewitness telling the court what they saw happen. This is considered strong direct evidence.

– Documents – Signed contracts, medical records, photographs, videos, etc. These provide proof of facts.

– Physical evidence – Weapons, blood samples, surveillance footage. Physical evidence ties a crime scene or documents an injury.

Circumstantial Evidence

Circumstantial evidence indirectly proves a fact or theory by inference. Some examples are:

– Motive – Evidence that establishes a potential reason the defendant would have committed the crime.

– Opportunity – Evidence showing the defendant had the chance to commit the crime.

– Fingerprints – Fingerprints at a crime scene that match the defendant’s fingerprints. This does not directly prove guilt but allows the inference that the defendant was present at the scene.

Circumstantial evidence requires making an inference, so it is considered weaker than direct evidence. However, circumstantial evidence can still be compelling, especially when multiple pieces of circumstantial evidence point towards the same conclusion.

Testimonial Evidence

Testimonial evidence is any statement made by a witness under oath. This includes:

– Oral testimony – Witnesses answering questions on the stand during a trial.

– Depositions – Sworn out-of-court testimony that attorneys can use at trial.

– Affidavits – Written sworn statements made under penalty of perjury.

The strength of testimonial evidence depends on the credibility of the witness. Factors like consistency, bias, and corroboration affect how believable a witness’s testimony is.

Demonstrative Evidence

Demonstrative evidence is evidence created specifically for trial to help explain other evidence or testimony. Examples include:

– Models – Creating a model of a crime scene or using dolls to demonstrate injuries.

– Diagrams – Using drawings and diagrams to illustrate locations or events.

– Simulations – Recreating an accident to demonstrate how it occurred.

– Maps – Providing maps of locations discussed in testimony.

Demonstrative evidence helps visualize testimony for the judge and jury. It is meant to supplement other evidence rather than stand alone.

Expert Testimony

Expert testimony comes from witnesses who have specialized knowledge in a field due to training, education, or experience. Experts may include:

– Doctors – Providing medical analysis of injuries or cause of death.

– Forensic scientists – Analyzing DNA, fingerprints, ballistics, etc.

– Financial experts – Interpreting financial documents and accounting practices.

– Psychologists – Analyzing a defendant’s mental state.

Expert testimony is intended to assist the judge or jury in areas where they lack knowledge. However, it can be scrutinized closely if the expert’s credibility or bias comes into question.

What makes evidence admissible?

For evidence to be admissible in court, it must meet certain standards set by evidentiary rules:


The evidence must be relevant to the particular facts and legal issues in the case. Evidence that has no bearing on the matter at hand will be excluded.


The evidence must be shown to be genuine and not altered or fabricated. Documents, photos, videos, and physical evidence must be verified as unaltered.

Hearsay Rule

Hearsay is an out-of-court statement offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted. Hearsay is generally inadmissible unless it falls under certain exceptions.

Original Evidence Rule

Original physical evidence is preferred. For example, the original signed contract rather than a photocopy. Some exceptions can allow duplicates or copies.

Exclusionary Rule

The exclusionary rule prohibits illegally obtained evidence in criminal trials. Evidence collected in violation of a defendant’s constitutional rights will be excluded.

How should evidence be presented in court?

Properly presenting evidence in court is key to meeting standards of admissibility and persuading the judge or jury. Here are some best practices:

Organize Evidence Methodically

Evidence should follow a logical order and “tell a story” rather than being presented haphazardly. Organize evidence to slowly build your case rather than jumping around.

Lead Witnesses Through Testimony

When conducting direct examination, ask open-ended questions to get all the relevant facts from your witness and elicit the testimony you need to prove your case.

Use Exhibits Effectively

When presenting a document, photo, or other exhibit, make sure to lay the proper foundation by having a witness identify and authenticate the exhibit.

Anticipate and Prepare for Cross-Examination

Be ready to defend your witnesses’ credibility and the reliability of your evidence under aggressive questioning from opposing counsel.

Emphasize the Strongest Evidence

Make the evidence that most supports your claims and contradicts opposing arguments a focus, rather than getting bogged down in unimportant details.

Use Visuals and Demonstratives

Display key evidence on poster boards, powerpoint slides, or other visuals to emphasize it to the judge/jury. Demonstratives also help simplify complex evidence.

Be Selective

Only present your best evidence. Don’t clutter up the court with redundant, irrelevant, or needlessly cumulative evidence as it will bore and confuse the fact-finder.

Tips for presenting different types of evidence

Certain kinds of evidence require specific presentation strategies:


– Provide clean, readable copies for the court.

– Ensure documents follow chronological or logical order.

– Highlight or enlarge key passages.

– Have witnesses identify and verify important documents.

Photographs & Video

– Verify photos have not been altered and accurately reflect the scene.

– Display equipment for optimal viewing.

– Narrate video evidence for clarity.

– Zoom in on critical details.

– Caution graphic photos that may prejudice the jury.

Physical Evidence

– Allow jurors to examine evidence up close when appropriate.

– Have expert witnesses explain significance of physical evidence.

– Demonstrate the mechanics of how a weapon or device functions.

– Use exhibits that jurors can interpret through touch, sight, or sound.


– Simplify complex concepts through models, diagrams, and simulations.

– Provide sufficient explanation for demonstratives through testimony.

– Point out key aspects and walk through every step.

– Use professionally created exhibits (poor quality can hurt credibility).

Expert Witnesses

– Establish expertise through credentials like education, training, and experience.

– Have expert simplify technical language for jury’s benefit.

– Anticipate attacks on credibility and bias during cross-examination.

– Highlight consensus of opinion in the expert’s field.

– Prepare visuals like powerpoint slides to illustrate testimony.


The best evidence tells a clear, compelling story through credible witnesses and authenticated exhibits. Careful organization and strategic presentation ensures the fact-finder understands the significance of the evidence in proving disputed facts. Both strong substantive evidence and skillful direct examination are needed to meet the burden of proof. Failing to present convincing evidence or flawed presentation can mean the difference between winning and losing at trial.

Understanding the rules of evidence and how different types of proof are introduced in court allows attorneys to elicit facts powerfully and ethically. With proper preparation and trial skills, advocates can appropriately shape the evidence to construct their strongest case theory. Ensuring juries hear the best evidence in the most digestible way is a central duty of trial lawyers and a determining factor in adjudicating disputes.