Evidence law governs the rules and process of admitting evidence into a court case. Rules of evidence include things such as how evidence is collected, the types of evidence, and what evidence can be admissible in a criminal case. To make this process easier to comprehend we have compiled some of the most common terms regarding evidence to help you become an active member of your defense. 


This term refers to whether a piece of evidence will be allowed into a court case to be viewed, heard or considered by a jury or judge. Admissibility is determined prior to the start of a court case by the judge. 

Inadmissible Evidence 

A judge may determine that a piece of evidence was obtained unlawfully or is not going to be allowed in as evidence because it is prejudicial to the defendant, irrelevant or based on hearsay. 

cash with handcuffs and gavel on a black table

Circumstantial Evidence 

Circumstantial evidence requires the judge or jury to use inferencing skills to come to a conclusion. Cornell Law School describes it as “indirect evidence that does not, on its face, prove a fact in issue but gives rise to a logical inference that the fact exists.”

Probative Evidence 

This form of evidence tends to prove or disprove a fact in a court case. For instance, the GPS on a defendant’s cell phone or in their car may prove or disprove their alibi. It may be used to show that the defendant’s phone or car was in a certain area during the time of the crime. 

Character Evidence

This type of evidence is used to prove that a person acted in a particular way on a specific occasion. Things that are taken into this evidence include prior bad acts, habits or disposition of that person. This type of evidence may or may not be admitted as evidence and will be determined by the judge. 

old friends

Burden of Proof 

This terminology is often used to explain that the burden or responsibility lies in the hands of the prosecution and requires proof by a preponderance of the evidence.

Corroborating Evidence

This form of evidence is used to back up or prove a witness’ testimony or other pieces of evidence. 

Material Evidence 

Material evidence is evidence that is relevant and also important enough to be allowed into evidence.

Incriminating Evidence 

This type of evidence tends to show the guilt of the person being charged. A jury may see, experience, read, or be told something that causes them to believe that the defendant is guilty of the crime. 

Forensic Evidence 

Forensic evidence includes fingerprints, DNA, blood, facial recognition, hair, skin, and other microscopic pieces of evidence that can prove the guilt or innocence of the person charged in the crime. 

Expert Witness Evidence 

This type of evidence requires the testimony, written or oral, of a person recognized as an expert in a specific field. 

For more information regarding the evidence that may be used against you in a court of law, talk to our team at the Law Office of Patrick Conway.