In a trial, evidence can either be real, given via testimony, or shown demonstratively. Demonstrative evidence at trial is evidence that is used to illustrate or explain a point or issue to a jury without relying solely on the oral testimonial evidence. The biggest advantage to demonstrative evidence is the ability to give the jurors a visual understanding of the facts of your case or the point you want to stress. Types of demonstrative evidence include charts, animation, illustration, graphs, video, and storyboarding. In this article, we’ll cover how you can strengthen your case with effective use of this kind of evidence.
What Is Demonstrative Evidence? Demonstrative VS Substantive Evidence
Demonstrative evidence is generally not admissible as substantive evidence to be considered by the trier of fact in making findings on the issues in the case. Substantive evidence is evidence that the jury can consider and rely on in making its decision in a case. However, in some circumstances, demonstrative evidence such as photographs, videos and X-rays can be admitted as substantive evidence if the proper foundation is laid beforehand.
In some cases, some substantive evidence may be mistaken for demonstrative evidence. For example, if a computer simulation of an accident recreation is presented before a jury, it is being used to explain how the accident happened—but it is also based on scientific data that was input into the computer for the simulation to be produced. In contrast, a computer animation is used to simply support or present the testimony of a witness in a visual manner. In this example, a computer simulation is substantive evidence, while the animation would be demonstrative evidence.
Effects Of Demonstrative Evidence At Trial
Even without admitting demonstrative evidence as substantive evidence, it can be very effective in presenting your case to the jury. By effectively using demonstrative evidence, you can create a more persuasive argument that could help the jury to make a decision that is favorable to your client. In order to use demonstrative evidence at trial effectively, it has to simplify information and present it in an accurate and interesting manner. Types of demonstrative evidence like storyboarding, trial animation, medical illustrations and more can help the jury to better visualize the key points you are making with your arguments.
Tips For Effective Use Of Demonstrative Aids
If presenting information in text format, the text should be easy to read and not crowded on the board or computer screen. When using specialized software to present the evidence, it is important to ensure that the software is working as it should before trial and to test the courtroom equipment. The ultimate goal should be to choose a format or medium that is most likely to assist the jury in retaining key testimony.
Demonstrative evidence should be produced as early as possible in the trial process because there may be a challenge from the opposing counsel to the use of the evidence. If the various types of demonstrative evidence you will be using are prepared early enough, they can also be changed as needed without the fear of a looming deadline. It can be a good idea to work with an experienced professional legal services team to help ensure that these concerns are more smoothly addressed throughout the process.
Contact AWR For Professional Litigation Support Services
William Roberts, Jr. & Associates (AWR) provides an array of trial presentation and litigation support services to help you strengthen your case. Contact us today to schedule expert trial animation, storyboarding, medical illustrations and more. We can help you improve your demonstrative evidence at trial!