Understanding Relevant Evidence

Relevant evidence is generally allowed in Vermont criminal trials. Irrelevant evidence is not allowed.

Criminal defendants want to understand and participate in their defense strategy, including planning the presentation of evidence of trial. Not all evidence can be admitted at trial.

The first and most basic limitation on evidence is that it must be “relevant evidence.” In other words, while it might be true that a defendant had a grandmother named Greta, that fact probably wouldn’t be relevant in case involving retail theft from Walmart. Of course, there are certain circumstances where that fact could be relevant. For instance, if Greta was a witness to the defendant’s theft or acted as an accomplice then it would be a relevant fact that the defendant had a grandmother named Greta who was present. But, if Greta had nothing to do with the defendant’s crime, the fact that the defendant simply had a grandmother named Greta would not be relevant evidence in his retail theft case.

Relevant evidence is defined by the Vermont Rules of Evidence as follows: “Relevant evidence means evidence having any tendency to make the existence of any fact that is of consequence to the determination of the action more probable or less probable than an it would be without the evidence.”


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