Jacqueline: E is for evidence. That’s our letter for today’s #steamA2Z podcast, one of our 10-minute SIP (STEM Information Podcast) series. Make sure to share with your friends. Go to technologyexpresso.net to see our podcasts. We’re going to go all the way through the alphabet and then start over with a different focus. Our word for today is evidence. E is for evidence.
You might say to yourself, “Ok, I know what evidence is. I use that word all the time.” It’s common in our language, but you know I do my homework; I do my research. I’m an analyst, so I start peeling back to find out what else we need to know about this word ‘evidence.’ I came across a great article, and I want to acknowledge my resources and reference. The article I’m reading from is called “15 Types of Evidence and How to Use Them.” This customer website is called i-sight.com. I think that as I was scrolling through, I was actually educating myself 15 different ways. Could you name 15 different types of evidence?
Some of these may or may not be allowed in a court of law. You always hear what’s admissible in the courts. Some are in other investigations. They mentioned if you had an HR case or an equal opportunity case, some of these types of evidence might be allowed in a hearing that aren’t allowed in a court of law. But the bottom line is, and you’ll see as we talk about it, there’s a very important one that we’re going to hit upon, which relates to STEM: scientific evidence. Out of scientific evidence, you’ll see the different career paths and opportunities, if it piques your interest going into a job like being an investigator. I know a lot of people like watching CSI (Criminal Scene Investigation). How interesting and intriguing that is, researching a crime and piecing things together. Even from a technology perspective, there’s computer forensics: getting into the computer and finding things that are hidden in the memory of computers as well as the history of the activity on those computers. There are a lot of careers that come from finding evidence in order to prove something or disprove something.
So, let’s get into this. What are the 15 different types of evidence that are out there? Like I said, just to test yourself, you can pause and try to see how many you can come up with and then when you resume the recording, see how many you got correct.
Evidence comes in many forms, and even if it’s not admissible in court it can still be relevant to a case and provide valuable insight during an investigation. The ability to gather and analyze different types of evidence is one of the most important competencies for anyone who conducts investigations. There are many types of evidence that help the investigator make decisions during a case, even if they aren’t direct proof of an event or claim. If any of you like watching the different CSI shows, you see how it helps with process of elimination and deductive reasoning. So, even if it’s not admissible in court, it still helps them in determining what their next step or what their path is in cracking the case.
The first rule is that evidence must be relevant to the investigation. If it is not directly related to the case it isn’t relevant evidence. That said, there are many types of evidence that, while not admissible in court, can be valuable, And even some evidence that is not admissible on its own may be admissible in conjunction with other types of evidence.
1) Analogical Evidence
While not a kind of evidence you’d use in court, this kind of evidence can be useful for increasing credibility by drawing parallels when there isn’t enough information to prove something. Their example is a workplace investigation. Just so you can relate, think of when you give analogies. You give an example of something that is similar. That’s the same thing with this evidence: showing parallels between two different things, two different cases. You’ll see that quite often. So, doing your research to find out if there has been a pattern or something similar that you can compare to. Has there been a precedence?
2) Anecdotal Evidence
Anecdotal evidence isn’t used in court, but can sometimes help in a workplace investigation to get a better picture of an issue. The biggest problem with this kind of evidence is that it is often “cherry picked” to present only anecdotes that support a particular conclusion. Consider it with skepticism, and in combination with other, more reliable, kinds of evidence. In and of itself, you can give me an anecdote. Some of you may have done this or have had someone do this to you in an argument. They gave you an anecdote of a similar situation, but they’re only painting one side of the picture. Be careful of this one.
3) Character Evidence
This is a testimony or document that is used to help prove that someone acted in a particular way based on the person’s character. You’ll hear this all the time: “That’s not his character,” or “That’s out of character for him/her.” While this can’t be used to prove that a person’s behavior at a certain time was consistent with his or her character, it can be used in some places and some investigations to prove intent, motive, or opportunity. If you have a person that doesn’t typically lie or steal, a typically calm person, you can use that as evidence, as history or a pattern for that person, but does that mean that person is incapable of snapping? Trust me, there’s enough anecdotal and analogical evidence that people you wouldn’t expect act out of character under certain circumstances or pressure. That’s why you have a combination of the different types of evidence.
4) Circumstantial Evidence
Also known as indirect evidence, this type of evidence is used to infer something based on a series of facts separate from the fact the argument is trying to prove. It requires a deduction of facts from other facts that can be proven and, while not considered to be strong evidence, it can be relevant in certain types of criminal and workplace investigations.
Let me pause and say on this website, they even have some investigation templates. Let’s say you want to do an investigation. At one of the kids’ events sponsored by BioLogue, Gladys Bolding, you’ve heard me talk about her, had the young people dress in their lab coats with their investigation kits. They did an investigation. Theirs was fun, for the 5-7 year-old group. They did an investigation on who stole the cookie from the cookie jar. It was very cute. She had the stolen cookie, the crumbs, and even some fingerprint evidence. They had to do all of that collection and use things like deductive reasoning and inferring. They may not know these per se, but they were already practicing them. That’s something fun you can do. If parents or teachers are listening, find ways to create your own crime scene and have them do a fun investigation.
5) Demonstrative Evidence
An object or document is considered to be demonstrative evidence when it directly demonstrates a fact. It’s a common and reliable kind of evidence. Examples of this kind of evidence are photographs, video and audio recordings, and charts. We know that in our society with everyone having a smartphone, we’re seeing a lot of demonstrative evidence.
6) Digital Evidence
Digital evidence can be any sort of digital file from an electronic source. This includes email, text messages, instant messages, files and documents extracted from hard drives, electronic financial transactions, audio files, video files. Digital evidence can be found on any server or device that stores data, including some lesser-known sources such as home video game consoles, GPS sport watches and internet-enabled devices used in home automation. Digital evidence is often found through internet searches using open source intelligence (OSINT). That’s a good word to look up, especially if cyber security intrigues you. This is good stuff to know.
7) Direct Evidence
The most powerful type of evidence, direct evidence requires no inference. The evidence alone is the proof. This could be the testimony of a witness who saw first-hand an incident. Whatever the investigation might be, if someone has a first-hand account and was there, then you have direct evidence.
8) Documentary Evidence
Most commonly considered to be written forms of proof, such as letters or wills, documentary evidence can also include other types of media, such as images, video or audio recordings.
9) Exculpatory Evidence
This type of evidence can exonerate a defendant in a criminal case. Prosecutors and police are required to disclose to the defendant any exculpatory evidence they find or risk having the case dismissed. This is a type of evidence that will exonerate, so proof that they couldn’t possibly have done the crime.
10) Forensic Evidence
Forensic Evidence is scientific evidence, such as DNA, trace evidence, fingerprints or ballistics (from the shooting of guns) reports, and can provide proof to establish a person’s guilt or innocence. Forensic evidence is generally considered to be strong and reliable evidence and alongside helping to convict criminals, its role in exonerating the innocent has been well documented. The term “forensic” means “for the courts”. It’s used in workplace investigations alike. Forensic evidence: I didn’t know that it stands for “for the courts”.
11) Hearsay Evidence
Hearsay evidence consists of statements made by witnesses who are not present. While hearsay evidence is not admissible in court, it can be relevant and valuable in a workplace investigation where the burden of proof is less robust than in a court case.
12) Physical Evidence
As would be expected, evidence that is in the form of a tangible object, such as a firearm, fingerprints, rope, or tire casts. These are all considered to be physical evidence. Physical evidence is also known as “real” or “material” evidence. It can be presented in court as an exhibit of a physical object.
13) Prima Facie Evidence
Meaning “on its first appearance” this is evidence presented before a trial that is enough to prove something until it is successfully disproved or rebutted at trial. This is also called “presumptive evidence”.
14) Statistical Evidence
Evidence that uses numbers (or statistics) to support a position is called statistical evidence. I love this one because it has to do with math. This type of evidence is based on research or polls. A lot of times when they do the DNA testing or the blood testing, they give you the chances that this was anyone other than the defendant, for example, one in 10 million.
15) Testimonial Evidence
One of the most common forms of evidence, this is either spoken or written evidence given by a witness under oath. It can be gathered in court, at a deposition or through an affidavit.
That was awesome! It was a bit of a recap. You pick up a lot of these terms if you are a big watcher of the CSI or the True Crime television shows. If these fascinate you, maybe there’s an inner investigator inside of you. What I suggest is do a little bit more research. Find out a little bit more. It doesn’t hurt just to be aware of how the court, the laws, and the system work should you ever get in trouble or should you ever need to prove a case. I hope you find this intriguing; I did. I hope you will continue to join us for our A2Z, STEM alphabet. Until next time. Thanks for joining us. Bye for now.