Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Demonstrative Evidence Definition:

Tangible evidence tendered in court through a witness.

Related Terms: Medical Demonstrative Evidence

"Demonstrative evidence," proposed Justice Dowd of the Missouri Court of Appeals in State of Missouri v Meramec Elevator, "consists of things, e.g., weapons, whiskey bottles, writings and wearing apparel, as distinguished from assertions of witnesses ... about things.""

In State v. Tollardo, Justice Bustamante of the Court of Appeals of New Mexico proposed that evidence used in court is generally of three kinds: testimonial evidence, documentary evidence and demonstrative evidence, adding:

".... demonstrative evidence (is) also sometimes referred to as real evidence or evidence by inspection, as such evidence as is addressed directly to the senses of the court or jury without the intervention of the testimony of witnesses, as where various things are exhibited in open court.... When used in this broad sense, demonstrative evidence includes a wide variety of things (including clothing and other personal effects; trailer involved in vehicular accident; (and); tattoos on a person's body)."


In his 1991 book on Visual Evidence, Ontario lawyer Elliott Goldstein reflected that there are two concepts as to what constitutes demonstrative evidence:

"To some, it is synonymous with real evidence, that is, the in-court production of physical objects such as weapons, clothing and machinery to prove how a crime was committed or how an accident occurred.

"To others, it means in-court demonstrations using charts, maps, plans, drawings, overhead projector transparencies, anatomical exhibits, 3-D models, thermograms and x-rays etc. to assist a witness (usually an expert) in explaining a procedure (e.g. medical operation), an injury, or the basis for an expert opinion/

"From this perspective, demonstrative evidence is inextricably linked to the testimony of a witness who authenticates the evidence and establishes its relevance, truth and accuracy, fairness and probative value."


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