What Are Some of the Different Types of Evidence?


Quick Answer

The four general categories of evidence include demonstrative evidence, which illustrates testimony, and real evidence, which consists of physical items that were involved in the case. The other categories are documentary evidence, which records words or deeds relevant to the case, and testimonial evidence, which consists of statements from people involved in or relevant to the case.

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Full Answer

In many cases, all four types of evidence are combined for the jury. For example, a witness may testify to what he saw, and his testimony may be backed up by documentary evidence such as pictures or recordings. The prosecution may put the documentary evidence together into a demonstrative map for the jury to make locations and relationships clear. Finally, real evidence from the crime scene may be brought forward to illustrate what happened and link suspects to the crime.

Before evidence can be used in a trial, it must be ruled admissible. For instance, a piece of real evidence found at a crime scene must have some reason to be introduced as evidence, such as a relevant fingerprint or other forensic link to those on trial. The evidence must also be reliable. For example, a witness who claims to have seen a person commit a crime may be judged unreliable if he was intoxicated at the time or if some other factor could have affected his ability to clearly identify the perpetrator.

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