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What Are the Different Types of Trial Objections?

A lawyer may object when irrelevant information is introduced in the courtroom.
A lawyer may object to a witness recounting hearsay, or being asked a misleading question.
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  • Written By: Lori Smith
  • Edited By: Michelle Arevalo
  • Last Modified Date: 28 September 2014
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There are a number of possible trial objections an attorney can proclaim. Lawyers may interject when there is an issue of hearsay or when leading questions are posed to a witness. During the course of a hearing, only relevant information should be introduced. When a questionable piece of evidence or witness testimony is presented that is not pertinent to the case, an objection of relevancy may occur. An attorney’s failure to make timely trial objections often leads to the admission of potentially damaging evidence when it otherwise may have been disallowed.

Hearsay is one of the most common trial objections. It frequently occurs when a statement is made by a witness that details what another person verbalized outside a courtroom setting. For example, a witness usually cannot testify about what someone who is not present in court may have told him or her at an earlier time. The witness can, however, state what actions he or she observed.

Lawyers must generally be very careful about the way they query witnesses. Opposing counsel frequently objects to leading questions. There are often small differences in the format, but asked improperly, trial objections will likely occur. For instance, "What time did the defendant arrive?" is an appropriate inquiry because it can be answered in a number or ways. The question itself does not lead to the answer, unlike "Isn't it true that the defendant arrived at midnight?"

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Whether an attorney is a prosecutor or defender, the stakes are often very high and lawyers are frequently under a great deal of pressure. Sometimes, they may address a witness in such a way that it can be considered badgering. Harassing or intimidating a witness by infusing sarcasm, making comments that are not in the form of a relevant question, or repeating queries that have already been answered by the witness will likely result in trial objections by opposing counsel.

In order for physical evidence or testimony to be admissible, its significance to the case must be established. Objections of relevancy may relate to the prior negative acts of a defendant that have nothing to do with the crime for which he or she is charged. Another example may include the educational background or family history of the accused. There are times, however, where this type of information is important to the case. In those instances, objections can be overruled by the judge.

Each time an attorney voices an objection, a ruling, or decision, is made on record. If the judge decides there is a legal basis for the protest, it will be sustained. If not, the judge will overrule it. Once an objection is overruled, physical evidence may be introduced, or witness testimony is generally permitted to continue.

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