n criminal law, evidence refers to the assertions of fact or material items that may be presented before a court of law to ascertain the truth regarding any alleged matter under investigation or prosecution. Evidence is used to prove or deny a crime and can be presented either by the litigator, prosecution, or the accused person in their defense (Gardiner, 2018). The critical prerequisites of evidence admissibility before a court or tribunal are competence, materiality, or relevance. Evidence can be real, documentary, testimonial, or demonstrative, and it is only considered material if it can be used to prove a relevant fact (Gardiner, 2018). For example, suppose an individual was present when a motor accident occurred and fatally wounded a pedestrian. In that case, his testimony is relevant because it can be applied to prove the culpability of the motorist. By contrast, if the witness testifies that he witnessed the accident while on his way to the office, that part of his testimony may not be relevant as it is not useful in proving the facts of the accident.
Search warrants are vitally important when the police want to collect evidence from a place where they suspect or believe that criminal activity has occurred or is occurring. Once the police have presented affidavits with the request and relevant reasons, the magistrates evaluate them and, if merited, grant the warrants. Typically, warrants are specific (Gardiner, 2018). For example, the warrant could authorize the police to search “House number 12, ABC place, along Westwood drive”. The inference is that the warrant does not grant the police arbitrary authority to search premises not specified in the warrant.
There are many incidences where a warrant is not necessary when collecting evidence. For example, a man suspected of sexually defiling a woman will be presented to the hospital for the extraction of semen, which will be used to match DNA samples with those from the victim. Similarly, in the case of a homicide, detectives do not need a warrant to visit the scene of a crime and lift fingerprints, collect samples, and scan the scene for different forms of evidence. Also, they do not need a warrant to collect eyewitness accounts from witnesses who were present during the commission of the crime. Similarly, if there is a domestic disturbance where spouses are fighting at night and neighbors call the police, the police do not need a warrant to enter the house as long as the owners grant consent.
Police and investigators need search warrants when collecting evidence from a person’s home, office, or other personal premises. A warrant is also necessary when searching one’s bank accounts and statements (Gardiner, 2018). In such cases, the warrant serves as an authority by the court to the police or investigators to search for specific materials or objects at a definite location. For example, suppose a government official is under investigation for corruption, money laundering, and theft of public funds. In that case, the court may give authority to the investigators to search their house, offices, and other dwellings for any documents, cash, data, gadgets, or records that may be useful in prosecuting the matter. Similarly, the court could grant a warrant authorizing access to all bank accounts that the suspect holds. When the investigators present the bank (s) with the warrant, they can be issued bank statements and any other exclusive information they may need as documentary evidence.
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