The term tangible evidence refers to physical evidence that can be seen at trial or other court proceeding.  It includes documentary evidence (e.g., sales contract, lease, employee handbook, photographs, etc.), electronic evidence (e.g., audio or video tape) and an object (e.g., gun or knife in a murder trial).

In order to have tangible evidence admitted into evidence, the attorneys are generally required to go through the following steps:

  • Put a witness on the stand who can authenticate and lay the foundation for the tangible piece of evidence. In order the authenticate the specific piece of evidence, the witness explains to the court that it is really what it purports to be.  In order to lay foundation, the witness provides facts to make the evidence admissible.
  • Have the evidence marked for identification (e.g., “Exhibit 10”);
  • This does not mean that the evidence will be entered into evidence.  So far the proposed evidence only has been labeled for the court record.
  • Show the tangible evidence to opposing counsel.
  • Question the witness about the evidence.
  • Move to introduce the tangible evidence into evidence (this is generally done through an oral motion).
  • The tangible evidence is only shown to the jury after the judge’s granting of the motion of the attorney introducing the evidence, and overruling any objections of the opposing counsel, and admitting that specific object/document into evidence.

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