What is evidence?
One of the most important steps you can take when getting ready for court is preparing your evidence. Evidence is information a party presents to prove their case. Evidence can be in two main forms:
What are the rules for presenting evidence?
- Witness testimony (people):
- The parties involved in the case;
- Other people who have direct and relevant information about the case, including records; or
- Experts qualified to give an opinion about some part of the case.
- Exhibits (things):
- Documents or objects used to prove your case (or disprove the other side’s case);
- Photographs; or
- Records, such as police records, medical records, bills, appraisals, school records, financial statements, etc.
There are rules of evidence that everyone must follow. The rules are in place to make sure that the judicial officer gets reliable, relevant, and accurate evidence to consider when making decisions about your case. A very important step you should take to prepare for a hearing is to review the rules of evidence. If you are representing yourself, you are expected to know the rules and to follow them.
There are many different rules of evidence. Some of the most important rules of evidence are:
- Generally, people can only talk about what they know first-hand (what they themselves saw, heard, felt, smelled, tasted, etc.). There are some exceptions to this rule.
- The other side has the right to question anyone whose words (whether written or spoken) are being considered.
- All testimony must be relevant information.
For more information, review the MN Rules of Evidence
. You may also find it helpful to review the Civil Trial booklet
You are strongly encouraged to talk with a lawyer
about the rules of evidence. There are a lot of rules, and they can be hard to understand. Lawyers get special training in evidence to learn these rules. It is very important to learn the rules of evidence
before you present your case at a trial or hearing.