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What Is Civil Evidence?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 15 August 2014
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Civil evidence is legal evidence that can be used in a civil case. The standards for civil and criminal evidence are different under the law and attorneys must be familiar with evidence law to practice effectively in court. Parties on both sides of a court can present evidence that supports their case and there are a number of different types of civil evidence that can be brought into court.

Documentary evidence includes written documents like contracts, letters, and financial records. Civil evidence can also include physical evidence, objects related to a case such as a defective product that injured someone, along with testimonial evidence, where someone testifies on the stand about matters related to the case. Testimonial evidence can include witnesses ranging from the victim of a civil crime to an expert being called upon to offer a professional opinion. People can also bring in demonstrative evidence, like models and representations.

In order to be accepted into court, civil evidence must be shown to be relevant to the case and people must be able to demonstrate that the evidence is authentic. There are a number of ways to prove authenticity. The evidence must also be clearly labeled, described, and controlled at the time it is collected to ensure that it cannot be falsified, forged, or altered in order to influence the outcome of the case. The other side is entitled to challenge evidence, as well as inspecting it to confirm that it is genuine.

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There are a number of ways that people can use evidence in court. Evidence can be used to support a claim being made, such as an argument that someone must have been aware of the terms of a contract in order to sign it. It can also refute a statement. If a landlord and a tenant are having a dispute about the responsibility for a repair, for instance, the tenant could produce a written authorization from the landlord to argue against a claim that the landlord disavows responsibility.

If civil evidence is challenged, the jury will be cleared from the room if a jury is present and the judge will discuss the matter with the attorneys on both sides. The judge will rule on whether the evidence should be allowed, taking the facts of the matter and the body of law into account. If the evidence is excluded, the jury will be asked to disregard the evidence and any information presented with it, on the grounds that it cannot be considered part of the case.

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