Credible evidence is a term given to testimony, and physical or circumstantial evidence that may be used to prove a point, especially in a court of law. The question of whether evidence is appropriate in any given case is usually a question of law. Determining whether admitted evidence is credible is usually subject to interpretation by a jury or other body that is convened to determine the facts of a certain case or situation.
In a court of law, most credible evidence is introduced through the testimony of witnesses. These individuals may be people who saw the alleged crime or event actually occur, or they may be law enforcement officers or other officials who witnessed the aftermath or effects of the incident. The goal of the attorneys is to argue what evidence should be determined credible and what evidence should not.
Another form of credible evidence is physical evidence, which includes objects that could have been used in the commission of a crime, forensic evidence, and recordings either during the crime or during interviews after the crime. In such cases, witnesses or other officials typically explain how the physical evidence relates to the case and points to the person accused of the crime. Physical evidence, by itself, is rarely credible evidence without an explanation detailing how it applies to the case.
One of the most common ways to raise doubt about testimony or evidence is to provide jurors or judges with a potential motivating factor for why a witness is saying what he or she is saying. For example, if the witness has a conflict with the accused, or defendant, that may provide a reason to doubt what otherwise could be considered credible evidence. The process of raising doubt about what a witness is saying is often referred to as impeaching the witness.
Credible evidence could also be called into doubt if mistakes were made during the investigation of the crime. For example, if the crime scene were compromised, or police failed to catalog each part of the investigation properly, that may raise doubt about some of the findings. The attorneys on the other side will attempt to explain some of the inconsistencies that may exist in the evidence.
While there may be guidelines that judges and juries use for determining what evidence is credible, there is no one standard. Each case is different and the circumstances surrounding them can sometimes be difficult to interpret. Therefore, those making the decision by actually examining the case are usually given a great deal of freedom in making determinations about evidence. In some cases, both sides will stipulate certain facts of a case that are not in dispute, which are generally considered pieces of credible evidence by a judge or jury.