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Challenging Evidence: Making or Breaking a Case

Updated: Aug 27, 2023 @ 6:46 am

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Evidence is the linchpin of any criminal case. Whether you’re charged with a minor misdemeanor or a serious felony in Harris County, the impact of evidence cannot be overstated.

Direct and Circumstantial Evidence

In Texas, evidence is classified as either direct or circumstantial.

Direct evidence, as the term suggests, directly proves a fact. An example of direct evidence could be a witness who saw the defendant commit a crime. Circumstantial evidence requires the judge or jury to infer a fact indirectly.

While often underestimated, circumstantial evidence can be as powerful as direct evidence. Even more so when corroborated. Texas courts have repeatedly held that both types of evidence are equally valid.

Expert Testimony

When the intricacies of a case exceed the understanding of laymen, expert witnesses can make the information more digestible.

These professionals—whether forensic analysts, mental health experts, or accountants—can explain complex issues. They’ll either lend credibility to your defense or challenge the prosecution’s claims. They can also be brought in by the state to help prosecute you by providing testimony that helps the District Attorney’s case.

Per the Texas Rules of Evidence, for an expert’s testimony to be admissible, they must be qualified in their field of study. Also, their insights must be relevant to the case and reliable.

The Exclusionary Rule

Illegally Obtained Evidence

Evidence obtained through illegal means can be excluded by raising the “Exclusionary Rule.” This principle, rooted in the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States and Article 38.23 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, is vital for protecting individuals from unlawful searches and seizures.

For example, if law enforcement searched your home without a warrant or probable cause, the evidence garnered from that search could be thrown out. If this happens, it can be very impactful, affecting the outcome of your case. When evidence is thrown out, it’s almost always a good thing for the defense.

Character Evidence

While often considered a risky move, presenting character evidence can be a strategic masterstroke. This is a form of evidence that suggests that a person’s character is indicative of their actions in relation to a particular event.

Under Texas law, there are specific instances when character evidence is permissible. Having a defense lawyer who understands the law in this regard is paramount.

Eyewitness Testimony as Evidence

Eyewitness testimony can be both compelling and perilous.

A positive identification from a witness can be damning. However, numerous studies, including those cited by the Innocence Project, have shown that eyewitness accounts are often unreliable. This is due to the inconsistent nature of human memory.

In Texas, challenging the credibility of an eyewitness is a well-tread path for defense attorneys. This is for good reason: cross-examination.

Digital Footprints

Evidence in a Digital World

Electronic evidence—emails, text messages, social media activity—is now a thing in criminal cases.

These digital footprints can either substantiate or dismantle the prosecution’s case.

This more modern aspect of criminal justice requires a deft hand that can leverage your rights to address this kind of evidence. Regardless of the type of evidence, it’s still subject to your Constitutional Rights, the Texas Rules of Evidence, and Texas codes of criminal procedure.

Confessions as Evidence

Confessions aren’t always open-and-shut-case evidence. There are stringent rules about when and how confession evidence can be admitted at trial.

For a criminal defense attorney to mount a successful challenge to potentially coerced or improperly obtained confessions, they’ll need to understand the psychological factors at play and the rules law enforcement must follow as prescribed by Texas law.

At The Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates, Houston criminal defense lawyers on our staff have this knowledge and experience.

Physical Evidence

The Gold Standard

Physical evidence—DNA, fingerprints, weapons—is often considered the gold standard in a criminal case. It’s tangible, concrete, and speaks volumes to a judge or jury.

However, even this form of evidence is not without its faults.

The procedures surrounding the collection, preservation, and presentation of physical evidence are dictated by the Texas Rules of Evidence. A violation of these protocols can render such evidence inadmissible. Again, thrown out of court.

Motive and Opportunity

The concepts of motive and opportunity are staples in the courtroom. However, the proper use of these concepts in a criminal trial is often misunderstood. In Texas, the prosecution doesn’t have to prove motive, but demonstrating a lack of motive can be a compelling defense strategy. Opportunity, while more tangible, could be decisively dismantled with a stiff alibi.

It’s important to note that every case is different. While one defense strategy may work in one situation, it may not even be applicable in another. If you’re in a situation with the law and are facing felony criminal charges in Houston, give us a call to discuss the matter.

The Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates

A Knowledgeable Defense Lawyer is Your Best Ally


The impact of the decisions you make early on in your case can have implications that reverberate throughout the entire process. For individuals facing criminal charges in the Greater Houston area, we recommend securing legal representation sooner rather than later.

If you’re looking for a criminal defense lawyer in Houston who has experience challenging evidence in criminal cases, contact Mr. Tad Nelson today. Mr. Nelson is Board Certified® in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and is an ACS/CHAL Lawyer-Scientist. If you’re looking for a serious lawyer to help you tackle a serious case, give us a call.

For more information or to schedule your free consultation & case review, give us a call at 713-802-1631. We’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Houston DWI Lawyer Tad A Nelson is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the TBLS.

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