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Law 101: Legal Guide for the Forensic Expert

Pretrial Rules of Evidence

Abstract Photo of a justice scale and law books in the background. Caption reads, 'Pretrial Rules of Evidence'
National Institute of Justice (NIJ) (see reuse policy).

The Federal Rules of Evidence state that evidence should be admitted if it is helpful, reliable, trustworthy, and assists one party or the other in proving or disproving an issue in a case. The purpose of the Federal Rules of Evidence is to secure fairness, eliminate unnecessary expense, and assist in the just determination of disputes (Federal Rule of Evidence 102).

Objections to the admission of evidence must be made in a timely fashion. Specific grounds for the objection must also be stated (Federal Rule of Evidence 103).

An offer of proof should always follow the court's ruling on exclusion of tendered evidence (Federal Rule of Evidence 103). Preliminary questions concerning qualifications of a person to be a witness, the admissibility of evidence, or the existence of a privilege are to be determined by the court. A party may always produce relevant evidence dealing with the weight of testimony or the credibility of witnesses (Federal Rule of Evidence 104).

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