The FindLaw Legal Dictionary -- free access to over 8260 definitions of legal terms. Search for a definition or browse our legal glossaries.
[Medieval Latin evidentia, from Latin, that which is obvious, from evident- evidens clear, obvious, from e- out of, from + videns, present participle of videre to see]
: something that furnishes or tends to furnish proof
: something (as testimony, writings, or objects) presented at a judicial or administrative proceeding for the purpose of establishing the truth or falsity of an alleged matter of fact see also admissible, best evidence rule, exclusionary rule, exhibit, foundation, objection, preponderance of the evidence, relevant, scintilla, state's evidence, suppress, testimony, witness Federal Rules of Evidence in the Important Laws section compare allegation, argument, proof
: evidence that is the most reliable and most direct in relationship to what it is offered to prove see also best evidence rule
: evidence of a particular human trait (as honesty or peacefulness) of a party or witness see also character witness at witness NOTE: Under the Federal Rules of Evidence, character evidence generally may not be used to prove that a person acted in accordance with that character. It is admissible for that purpose, however, if a criminal defendant offers it about himself or herself or about the victim, or if the prosecution offers evidence to rebut the defendant's evidence in either of those circumstances. The prosecution may also rebut a claim of self-defense by presenting evidence of the peaceful character of the victim. Additionally, the character of a witness with regard to truthfulness may be attacked or supported by opinion or by evidence of reputation.
: evidence that tends to prove a factual matter by proving other events or circumstances from which the occurrence of the matter at issue can be reasonably inferred compare direct evidence in this entry
: testimonial evidence in this entry
: evidence that is admissible, relevant, and material to the factual matter at issue
: evidence that is independent of and different from but that supplements and strengthens evidence already presented as proof of a factual matter called also corroborative evidence compare cumulative evidence in this entry
: evidence that is of the same kind as evidence already offered as proof of the same factual matter compare corroborating evidence in this entry
: evidence in the form of objects (as maps, diagrams, or models) that has in itself no probative value but is used to illustrate and clarify the factual matter at issue
: physical evidence in this entry called also illustrative evidence
: evidence obtained as a result of the unlawful gathering of primary evidence called also indirect evidence secondary evidence see also fruit of the poisonous tree
: evidence that if believed immediately establishes the factual matter to be proved by it without the need for inferences
: evidence of a factual matter offered by a witness whose knowledge of the matter was obtained through the use of his or her senses (as sight or hearing) compare circumstantial evidence in this entry
evidence in chief
: evidence that is to be used by a party in making its case in chief
: evidence that tends to clear a defendant from fault or guilt see also brady material NOTE: The prosecution in a criminal case is obligated to disclose to the defense any exculpatory evidence in its possession.
1 : evidence regarding an agreement that is not included in the written version of the agreement NOTE: A court may use extrinsic evidence to make sense of an ambiguity in a writing subject to some limitations.
2 : evidence about a witness's character obtained from the testimony of other witnesses rather than from cross-examination of the witness himself or herself NOTE: A witness may not be impeached by the use of extrinsic evidence.
: a statement made out of court and not under oath and offered in evidence as proof that what is stated is true
: demonstrative evidence in this entry
: evidence that may be used to impeach a witness because it tends to harm the witness's credibility
: derivative evidence in this entry
: evidence that exists within a writing [the will contains ample intrinsic evidence of the testator's intent "Stoner v. Custer, 251 N.E.2d 668 (1968)"] compare extrinsic evidence in this entry
: evidence that is likely to affect the determination of a matter or issue
: evidence that warrants reopening of a claim or reversal of a conviction because but for the circumstance that the evidence was unavailable the outcome of the first proceeding would have been different
: evidence presented that is insufficient to prove a matter of esp. vital fact
: a point of error that insufficient evidence has been presented to support a finding
: evidence of matters spoken (as an oral agreement) that are related to but not included in a writing see also parol evidence rule
: tangible evidence (as a weapon, document, or visible injury) that is in some way related to the incident that gave rise to the case called also real evidence compare demonstrative evidence and testimonial evidence in this entry
: prima facie evidence in this entry
prima facie evidence
: evidence that is sufficient to prove a factual matter at issue and justify a favorable judgment on that issue unless rebutted
1 : best evidence in this entry
2 : evidence obtained as a direct result of an unlawful search
: physical evidence in this entry
: evidence that tends to refute or discredit an opponent's evidence
: evidence that tends to prove or disprove any issue of fact that is of consequence to the case
: derivative evidence in this entry
: evidence greater than a scintilla of evidence that a reasonable person would find sufficient to support a conclusion
: evidence offered to prove a factual issue rather than merely for impeachment
: evidence given in writing or speech or in another way that expresses the person's thoughts compare physical evidence in this entry NOTE: Only testimonial evidence is protected by the Fifth Amendment's privilege against self-incrimination.
: as evidence [introduced a letter in evidence]
: to provide evidence of
Source: Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law ©1996. Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. Published under license with Merriam-Webster, Incorporated.