Evidence That Cannot Be Used in a Florida Criminal Court
Evidence is an essential part of any legal proceeding, with conviction or acquittal often a direct result of the evidence used in court. However, not all evidence carries equal weight, and some may not be allowed at all if it violates public policy or the defendant’s rights.
Evidence in Florida is likely to be inadmissible if it is:
Even defendants who have been accused of a crime in Florida have the right to be protected against unwarranted intrusions into their privacy or seizure of their belongings. These rights extend to the manner in which evidence is obtained before it’s used in a criminal investigation. Law enforcement officers must perform specific procedures when collecting evidence, including getting a warrant before searching your property, vehicle, home, or person. If you did not consent to a search and the police did not have a valid warrant, any evidence obtained in violation of your civil rights cannot be used in court.
If a piece of evidence has been legally obtained, it may be challenged based on its relevance. Admissible evidence provides reasonable inferences about the probability of the facts of the case and is a qualified factor in determining whether certain claims are true or false. For example, if a defendant accused of battery previously made a violent threat against a different person, the testimony of the threat may be irrelevant even if it occurred.
You have the right to be protected from hearsay, an oral or written testimony made out-of-court and offered in evidence to prove the truth of the matter in court. The problem with hearsay is that the statement itself usually cannot be verified or substantiated, such as witness testimony that came from another party, rumors, gossip, or opinions on your behavior. For example, if a witness says she had heard someone reference your name in connection with a crime, this testimony portion is hearsay. Hearsay is generally inadmissible unless the information can be corroborated using public records, authentic documents at least 20 years old, recorded family history, business records, vital statistics records, or learned treatises used to question expert witnesses.
Related to a Previous Crime
Many people facing criminal charges have a history of prior offenses. In order to give all defendants a fair trial, the prosecution is usually prohibited from introducing evidence of bad acts or collateral crimes unless necessary to prove a material fact in the current case. Common exceptions include evidence proving the defendant’s motive or identity, such as comparing a video from a prior conviction to photos in the present case to positively identify the accused.
Florida law generally disallows the prosecution from introducing evidence of a defendant’s prior bad behavior. Just because a defendant engaged in reckless or illegal activity in the past does not prove that they currently act in the same way. However, character evidence may be admissible if its intrinsic value outweighs its risk of unfairly influencing the jury.
Some parties, such as attorneys and judges, can decide whether or not particular evidence can be presented in court. Ultimately, seeking advice from an experienced lawyer is the only way to know if criminal evidence will be admitted into legal proceedings.
Speak to a Florida Criminal Defense Attorney Today
You don’t have to go through this alone! The criminal defense team at Flaherty and Merrifield offers free consultations and convenient payment plans, making it easy and affordable to learn your rights after an arrest. Call 850-243-6097 today or fill out our contact form to learn more.