Evidence and the law


Evidence and the law, as they relate to criminal proceedings, are incredibly complex in England and Wales and are governed by various statutes, secondary legislation and case law.

The burden of proof governs who has the burden to prove a certain fact based on the evidence. The burden of proof changes throughout a trial for different matters. The burden of proof in criminal law almost always lies with the prosecution. However, the burden of proof in criminal law can lie with the defence, such as when they are establishing a defence. The burden of proof in civil matters also generally lays with the prosecution, but it changes for different points throughout the trial.

Evidence concerns the law as it relates to the information or material produced by the defence or the prosecution to show the court that their version of events is true. Evidence must be admissible in the court and must be relevant to the issue. Law exists regarding evidence in part to ensure that unsafe evidence is not put before the court.

Some evidence laws exist to protect vulnerable people from court. Special measures exist for children under seventeen, people suffering from a mental or physical disorder likely to affect their evidence and for those whose evidence is likely to be affected by their fear or distress. Special measures therefore apply to victims of sexual offences, as their fear of facing the accused will often affect their ability to give evidence.

Special measures allow evidence to be given in different ways; sometimes screens are used so the defendant cannot see the witness, or evidence is given by live video link to the court. Children who are required to give evidence in court may benefit from a less-formal atmosphere and as a result wigs and gowns can be removed. Evidence law exists not only to protect vulnerable witnesses but also to protect the defendant from evidence that was gained by improper means, such as confession evidence obtained under duress.

If you would like to obtain legal advice on evidence and the law, Caven can put you in touch with a local specialist criminal defence solicitor free of charge. So, if you have any questions or would like our help in finding criminal defence solicitors please call us on 08001 221 2299 or complete the web-form above.

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