Testimonial evidence are spoken evidence made by witnesses under oath in court during court proceedings in a particular case. This type of testimony can be made by victims of incidents, suspects or witnesses who are not under oath during ongoing proceedings. Testimonial evidence are the most common form of proof and are used to explain other evidence in the case. From the point of view of the investigation, all testimonial evidence is not considered reliable until confirmed by other physical evidence or another witness testimonial evidence.
Testimonial evidence consist of:
- Testimonies from preliminary hearings, court proceedings, previous trials and admission of guilt
- Statements from police interrogations
- Documents with the accusation of a crime committed sent to the police
- An objective witness statement made in circumstances leading to the recognition that the statement will be available for later use in the legal proceedings
For example, at the time of the violent attack, the victim appears, as well as other people who witnessed the incident. There may also be people who have heard the confusion and have seen the defendant accused. All these people are summoned as witnesses to testify about what they have seen or heard.
In addition to witnesses to the incident, there may also be evidence of a crime, such as fingerprints, weapon used, or bloodied clothing. The evidence facilitates linking the accused to the offender and proving his guilt. In order for the evidence to be admitted as a legal evidence, certain items must be documented in the confessions of the witnesses, who confirms that the evidence comes from the crime scene and explains their importance.
Usefulness of Testimonial evidence
Evidence from testimony is good when it works in the right way. When the testimony works well, belief based on testimonies is not the best substitute for direct evidence, and is often even better than a belief based on direct evidence. For the testimony to be useful, it must be truthful, competent, reliable, and a witness must be knowledgeable and conscientious.
Testimonial evidence proves or refutes pre-determined assumptions about a particular case. They include:
- identification of the accused by the witness
- presentation by the officer of the actions taken by the police during the investigation
- testimony of the accused, proving his guilt or cleansing him of the charges
- testimony of a professional witness with specialist knowledge about a specific area important in the case
- (Dutelle A., (2011), p.14)
- (Newton S., Welch T., (2013), p.410)
- (Buckles T., (2003), p.63)
- (Hardwig J., (1991), p.698-700)
- Buckles T., (2003), Laws of Evidence, „Delmar, Cengage Learning”, p.63
- Dutelle A., (2011), An Introduction to Crime Scene Investigation, „Jones and Bartlett Publishers“, p.14
- Hardwig J., (1991), The Role of Trust in Knowledge, The Journal of Philosophy, 88.12, p.698-700
- Newton S., Welch T., (2013), Understanding Criminal Evidence, Wolter Kluwer Law & Business, p.410
Author: Aleksandra Bizoń