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Most cases depend upon presentation of evidence so that the case can be proven, and in most countries, strong reliance on evidence is needed in order to make a reasonable case. Absence of evidence creates significant problems because legal representatives have little means to prosecute or defend without it. Most criminal trials cannot proceed without sufficient evidence that suggests a person should be charged with the crime. A defendant’s failure to provide contradictory evidence or to show that prosecutorial proofs based on evidence are faulty generally means that prosecution is successful and a person is convicted.
In many parts of the world, formal proceedings determine if a case has sufficient evidence to go to trial. In places like the US, Grand Juries make this determination for serious crimes. One of the major points of assessment when a Grand Jury deliberates is whether the evidence presented by the prosecutors is adequate. Complete absence of evidence of any kind or presence only of a small amount of circumstantial evidence tends to mean the Grand Jury will not bind the case over for trial. Since the burden of proving a case rests on the prosecution, there’s less likelihood of obtaining a conviction if evidentiary support is minimal.
There are different types of evidence that may be considered in determining the strength of a case. Solid and strong evidence include incontrovertible physical evidence such as DNA or blood samples, testimony of several witnesses, or possession of weapons used in crimes. Absence of evidence might still be compensated for by a preponderance of circumstantial evidence and a few pieces of hard evidence, linking the defendant to a crime. Since juries in trials are to decide based on the evidence, less than this usually won’t result in conviction. All the defendant’s representatives must do in a fair trial is point to the absence of evidence or poke holes in the prosecution’s explanations of the small amount of evidence they claim establishes guilt.
The requirement for adequate proof can be daunting to investigators and prosecutors, though it is a dearly held concept in the administration of justice in places like the US. There are times when investigators have evidence they can’t use, such as if it was recovered during any illegal search or seizure. Sometimes important facts like past criminal history are also inadmissible. Evidence can also be lost or misplaced, or poor handling of it could render it useless.
As mentioned, a body like the Grand Jury may simply chose not to indict based on absence of evidence. A judge can also end a case if he or she feels insufficient evidence is available to continue. Should a case continue, jury members are empowered to fail to convict based on lack of evidentiary support. Therefore, the absence of evidence is often a major roadblock in obtaining a conviction, though it is good news for the defendant if the lack of evidence stems from the prosecutor’s side.