Criminal evidence refers to any kind of testimony or evidence concerning a crime. Criminal evidence can take various forms, and is typically applied to prove that a crime was really committed, and establish any blame in a criminal case. Generally, evidence in law is anything which the presiding judge permits a jury to take into consideration towards a particular verdict (Zuckerman and Roberts, 2003). Examples of evidence could include testimonials by witnesses, demonstrative evidence or even photographs displaying the scene of the case or crime. Acceptable criminal evidence constitutes of reasonably reliable facts or information that would be certain to offer a more concrete picture about a crime. In most cases, evidence is determined as either circumstantial or direct. The circumstantial type tends to suggest a proof or support to a particular theory without having to prove something unequivocally. On the other hand, direct evidence would give information that proves to be true beyond any reasonable doubt.
According to Hails (2004), criminal evidence of any nature is very crucial for courts to make justifiable ruling on either criminal or civil cases. In this case, the value of evidence can never be underestimated, considering the role it plays in the court rulings. Evidence is always regarded as the platform for judicial systems, since it helps law experts to reconstruct the possible events surrounding a particular case. In scenarios where evidence is lacking, the prosecution is more likely to be constituted in personal designs, corruption and even unlawful conviction. Considering the benefits of evidence in helping to make informed decisions on criminal cases, it is extremely crucial for people presenting those evidences to ensure that they are accurate and legal. However, no matter how we perceive criminal evidence, it should never escape our knowledge that, it can be created to appear accurate in all possible ways, in a manner which is hard to detect and if that happens, we can only imagine what could befall innocent people in the name of conviction which is based on concrete, but manipulated evidence. To help understand the concept of the law of evidence this paper observes the evidence presented in a criminal case featuring O.J. Simpson’s trial in the year 1995.
The O.J. Simpson case of murder is observed to be one of the most famous trials and no doubt the most publicized criminal case in American history (Cotterill, 2003). The big case took place in the Superior Court of California, in the County of Los Angeles. In this trial, a former actor and a legendary American footballer, Simpson, was faced with double charges of cold blood murder of Nicole Brown, his ex-wife and Ronald Goldman, her friend, in the evening of June 13, 1994. The murders were executed within the vicinity of Nicole Brown’s Drive condo in Los Angeles. It was observed that, Simpson and Brown had signed up a divorce two years early and this was indeed one of the main reasons as to why Simpson was suspected to be the killer. This however, wasn’t a mistaken thought of misguided suspicion, considering Simpson’s initial behavior and reactions following the murders.
To begin with, Simpson had failed to comply with the order of the law enforcers to turn himself in the station to answer questions regarding what he knew about the murders. On top of that, just a few hours later, Simpson would draft a letter that sounded more like a suicidal note than anything else, where he had expressed his regards to a number of friends, before assuring them that he had had a great life and therefore, they should not feel sorry for him. These controversial contents of the letter steered a lot of questions on whether Simpson could really be the killer of his ex-wife. Later that same evening (June 17, 1994), the police traced Simpson in his Bronco together with his driver, and when they declined to stop, they chased after them in a drama-like experience that involved 20 police cars on ground and a few helicopters on the air. Simpson was finally arraigned on June 20, but would plead not guilty to the murders.
However, even without any witnesses to the double murders, the prosecution succeeded at raising a very strong case against Simpson and this was heavily backed by the seemingly accurate DNA evidence of blood traces collected from the crime scene. The facts surrounding the DNA evidence would raise many questions than answers, thus bringing Simpsons closer to trial in the dawn of every new day of the case (Thompson, 1996). This was coupled with physical evidence which observed that, the defendant had drove to his ex-wife’s place on the day before her death, with the aim of killing her. Everything else however, was based on mere speculation but surprisingly, every other arising evidence on the case identified Simpson as the prime suspect. For instance, a dark leather glove which had been found at the scene of the crime, proved to be a match to another glove that was later found close to a neighbor’s house right behind Simpson’s Drive estate, in Rockingham. As it would be observed by the prosecution, DNA analysis on this pair of gloves directly linked the suspect to the case, while a hair strand similar to Nicole’s was also found in the glove traced near his resident.
Other key evidences in this case were based on a number of aspects surrounding the murder incident, with most of it involving traces of blood that were found on the suspect’s clothing, whose DNA analysis proved to be of either one or both victims. Other physical evidences such as huge bloody footprints at the scene where the two murders had took place, would exactly match Simpson’s foot size. Other reports would observe that, even though the suspect’s defense team had adamantly tried to deny that their client ever owned the type of shoes in question, it was obviously true that Simpson really owned such shoes and there were even photographic evidence of him wearing them in various public events. All these, among other evidences that were not presented in court proved to be enough to fix Simpson right on the charges against him. However, his defense team, reputed to have constituted of high-profile lawyers who’d be branded the ‘Dream Team’ by the reporters, readily appeared to have answers for every argument that was raised against their client.
According to Linder (2011), Simpson was ultimately acquitted, following a lengthy trial exceeding nine months, after his lawyers succeeded in convincing the jury that their client was innocent and the charges facing him were just nothing but a ‘police fraud.’ The acquaintance of Simpson however, drew mixed reactions from the international scene. Just like his prosecutors, many had perceived the evidence to be more than enough to convict him. However, everyone should have found the reason to praise the magnificence decision of the jury which had presided over this case, especially after the real murderer was ironically found by Simpson himself, just a few months after he had been acquitted of a mistaken case that would have made him a victim of the capital punishment.
Cotterill, J. (2003). Language and power in court: A linguistic analysis of the OJ Simpson Trial. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Hails, J. (2004). Criminal Evidence (6th Ed). Belmont: Wadsworth Publishing.
Linder, D. (2011). Famous American Trials. The O.J. Simpson Trial, 1995. Web.
Thompson, W. (1996). DNA evidence in the OJ Simpson trial. U. Colo. L. Rev, 7 (12), 827.
Zuckerman, A and Roberts, P. (2003). Principles of criminal evidence. United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.