What Makes Evidence in an NC Criminal Case Inadmissible?
On behalf of Randall & Stump, PLLC in Criminal Defense on Monday, August 26, 2019
A basic principle of the U.S. criminal justice system is that a prosecutor must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt to convict someone accused of a crime. Evidence is the foundation for meeting this burden, and it’s also essential to the defense of an accused individual. However, the prosecution can’t use just any evidence to secure a conviction. There are constitutional and procedural protections regarding information that should be excluded from consideration for various reasons. If you’ve been arrested on criminal charges in North Carolina, keeping this inadmissible evidence out of court could be a turning point in your case.
At Randall & Stump, PLLC, our lawyers have meticulous knowledge of the laws and rules regarding evidence in a criminal case. We apply these skills to protect your rights throughout the pre-trial phases, and we’re equally prepared to tackle complicated evidentiary issues at trial. To learn more about how we can help with your case, please contact our Charlotte office to set up a free consultation with a North Carolina criminal defense attorney.
Understanding Inadmissible Evidence
The starting point for the admissibility analysis is the North Carolina Rules of Evidence, which provides that information is generally allowed unless it contradicts your constitutional rights, state or federal statutes, or the Rules themselves.
The Bill of Rights lays out your civil rights in a criminal case, and the North Carolina Declaration of Rights closely mirrors these provisions. These documents are a limitation on the power of government in criminal matters, prohibiting officials from engaging in acts that violate your rights. As they pertain to evidence, the two most important provisions are:
- Your right to be free from unlawful search and seizure
- Protections against self-incrimination
The Rules of Evidence
These regulations address admissibility from a technical standpoint, and many may sound familiar:
- Hearsay – Statements are not admissible if they’re offered as evidence by someone other than the individual who made them. However, there are numerous exceptions to the hearsay rule.
- Other Criminal Activity – Evidence regarding other offenses isn’t admissible to prove that the defendant committed the current crime, but it can be introduced for other purposes.
- Statements Made During Plea Negotiations – If you engaged in negotiations in an attempt to resolve your case, these discussions are not admissible if you later withdraw a guilty plea.
Of course, there are many other rules regarding admissibility of evidence in a criminal matter, but these are the issues that arise frequently.
Keeping Inadmissible Evidence Out of Court
Even if information qualifies as inadmissible and should be excluded from your case, it won’t be automatically tossed out of court. Under most circumstances, you’ll need to file a motion and request that the judge make a ruling on admissibility. Such motions can be raised during pretrial phases, so they’re resolved well before trial. However, there are some inadmissibility challenges that come up at trial. You may recognize such a scenario: a lawyer stands, states the objection, and provides the grounds for why the evidence should be inadmissible.
Trust Our North Carolina Criminal Defense Attorneys to Protect Your Rights
You can see that the rules regarding inadmissible evidence are complicated, which is why it’s smart to rely on an experienced lawyer to assist with your case. Our team at Randall & Stump, PLLC is dedicated to advocating on your behalf, so we’ll fight to keep improper information out of the courtroom. Please call our Charlotte, NC office at (980) 237-4579, or check out our online contact form to schedule your free appointment today.