In criminal trials, the types of evidence that a judge can allow a jury to see is governed by the Federal Rules of Evidence (FRE) and state evidence rules, which often mirror the federal rules. One of the most important rules, which is regularly used during pretrial hearings between prosecutors and defense attorneys trying to convince judges to keep out or let in certain bits of testimony or evidence, is Rule 403, which allows judges to prevent certain pieces of evidence from being presented at trial. Even if the evidence is directly relevant to the charges that have been brought against you, judges are given flexibility by Rule 403, in order to preserve fairness in legal proceedings. Rule 403 is designed to keep needlessly harmful information away from jurors, by allowing judges to keep out relevant evidence, if it poses a substantial danger of causing unfair prejudice, confusing the issues, misleading the jury, causing undue delay, wasting time, or needlessly presenting cumulative evidence. This danger must substantially outweigh the probative value of the evidence, in order for it to be kept out.
An experienced criminal defense attorney can craft effective arguments to convince a judge to keep potentially damaging pieces of evidence away from juror’s eyes and ears. Defense lawyers will harness Rule 403 to convince a judge that even if a piece of evidence is relevant, it does not prove much of anything in your case. They can further help a judge come to a favorable decision by emphasizing the possible impact that the evidence could have on a jury, resulting in unfair bias against you. Generally, if a piece of evidence has the potential to cause a strong emotional reaction in an average person, this reaction could impede jurors’ capacity to consider the facts of the case rationally.
A skilled and well-prepared defense attorney will have an advantage at a pretrial evidentiary hearing. A good attorney will work tirelessly to ensure that unfairly damaging evidence is not considered by jurors. Strategies often include filing a motion to prevent a prosecutor from bringing up certain evidence before a jury, or objecting to evidence after prosecutors have attempted to obtain permission from a judge before a trial. Aggressive advocacy during evidence hearings is crucial to your criminal case.
A criminal defense lawyer with knowledge of Rule 403 and how to use it to your advantage in keeping potentially damaging evidence out of a trial, in state or federal court, can make all the difference in your case. Goldman & Associates will fight for your best interests at every step of the trial process. Contact our offices in the Chicago area today for a free consultation on your matter.