Chapter 2
Approach to the Study of Evidence
Definitions and Criminal Procedure

Distinctions Between Civil and Criminal Cases


1. The State is a party bringing criminal charges against a person or entity.
2. The accused has a presumption of innocence.
3. Proof is required “beyond a reasonable doubt”.
4. A unanimous verdict is generally required.
5. The State has no right of appeal from the verdict.
6. Weak evidence is given less weight.

1. A private party or entity is suing another over a private dispute.
2. Both parties start off on equal footing. Neither has a presumption in their favor.
3. Proof is required by “a preponderance of the evidence”.
4. Unanimity is not required- usually only 9 out of 12 jurors are required to agree to reach a verdict.
5. Either party may appeal on the same basis.
6. Weaker evidence can be given greater weight.

Comparison of Federal and State Systems
     • Federal
        • US Atty is appointed by the President
        • US Supreme Court
        • 11 Appeals Courts called “Circuit Courts”
        • We are in the 9th Circuit
        • Trial Courts called “District Courts”
        • Our District Court is in Fresno

     • State
        • District Attorney elected in 58 counties
        • Cal. Supreme Court
        • 6 Appellate Districts with Courts of Appeals
        • We are in the 5th AD.
        • Trial Courts called “Superior Courts”
        • Stanislaus Superior Court is in Modesto

    • Proof- the establishment of a fact by evidence
    • Evidence- means employed to prove or disprove a disputed or unknown fact.
        • Testimonial- evidence from witnesses speaking under oath or affirmation
        • Documentary- evidence furnished by written records, photos, audio or video tapes, CDs, DVDs, and computer media.
        • Real- Physical evidence or things that have evidentiary value in and of themselves

Direct v. Circumstantial
    •Direct- evidence which directly proves a fact without the need of any other facts; usually based on personal knowledge.
        • It is evidence which by itself, if found to be true, establishes that fact.
    • Circumstantial- evidence which depends on the proof of other facts which lead to the proof of the main fact; usually depends on the proof of “inferences”
        • An inference is a deduction of fact that may logically and reasonably be drawn from another fact or group of facts established by the evidence.
        • Each link in the chain must be proved “beyond a reasonable doubt”

Need for Direct Evidence
    • It is not necessary that facts be proved by direct evidence.
    • They also may be proved by circumstantial evidence alone or by a combination of direct and circumstantial evidence.
    • Both direct and circumstantial evidence are acceptable as a means of proof. Neither is entitled to any greater weight than the other.

Evaluation of Circumstantial Evidence
    • Must not able to reconcile with any other “rational” conclusion
    • If there are 2 equally reasonable interpretations, defendant is given the benefit of the doubt.

Cumulative v. Corroborative
    • Cumulative- evidence which goes to prove facts already established or repeats evidence already offered
    • Corroborative- evidence which tends to support the proof of a fact by evidence of a different type or character

Prima Facie Evidence
    • A preliminary showing sufficient to meet the minimum evidentiary standards

Relevant, Material, Competent Evidence
    • Relevant- evidence having any tendency to make the existence of a fact of consequence more or less probable
    • Material- having a substantial and significant influence on the issue
     • Competent- evidence which meets the minimum standards of reliability

5 Reasons for Excluding Evidence
    • Protecting special relationships
    • Avoiding undue prejudice to the accused
    • Keeping out unreliable evidence
    • Enforcing constitutional safeguards
    • Conserving time and resources

Criminal Procedure
    • Arrest
    • Arraignment on Complaint
    • Detention or Bail Review hearing
    • Preliminary Hearing
    • Grand Jury
    • Arraignment on Indictment or Information
    • Trial

Criminal Procedure- Arraignment
    Arraignment must occur w/i 48 hours of arrest
        -Complaint with affidavits is filed
        -defendant advised of rights
        -attorney appointed or retained
        -bail set or released pending trial
        -set for preliminary hearing

Criminal Procedure- Detention
    Detention Hearing
        -judge or magistrate decides pretrial release conditions
            -Federal: usually a separate hearing
            -California: usually combined with arraignment

Criminal Procedure- Preliminary Hearing
    • “Probable Cause” hearing
    • Judge determines if there is “sufficient cause” to believe:
        • a crime has been committed; and
        • the defendant is the one who committed it.
    • “Sufficient cause” is considerably less than “beyond a reasonable doubt”
    • Must occur within 10 days if in custody

Differences between CA and Federal Court system
     Federal Court
        -PX required for both felonies and misdemeanors (other than petty offenses)
        -all hearsay allowed and no evidentiary rules except privileges apply
        -for felonies, a Grand Jury hearing is still required after a PX
        -following a Grand Jury hearing, an “indictment” is filed.

        -required for felonies only
        -some hearsay is allowed but most rules of evidence still apply.
        -a Grand Jury hearing is not required after a preliminary hearing (and vice-versa)
        -following the PX, an “information” is filed

Grand Jury vs. PX
    Grand Jury
        • No judge is present
        • No defense atty or defendant present
        • No cross exam
        • Evidence is not challenged
        • Judge present
        • Defendant and atty present
        • Witnesses are cross examined
        • Admissibility of evidence may be challenged