Photographs are a common example of real evidence used in criminal trials. Photographs allow the judge and/or jury to view a piece of evidence visually and make their own determinations on that piece of evidence.
For a photograph to be admissible as evidence at trial, it must fairly, properly and accurately depict what it purports to depict. It must not intend to mislead. It must be verified under oath at trial by the individual who took the photo or someone else who can attest to its accuracy.
Person A is on trial for drug trafficking and weapons offences. Person A was arrested after police executed a search warrant on his place of residence and discovered a large quantity of cocaine, scales, materials for packaging the drugs and a loaded handgun. During the raid, officers photograph the house as well as all relevant evidence. The evidence is then bagged and brought to the crime lab for testing to confirm quantity and substance.
At trial, rather than bringing the actual drugs, paraphernalia and handgun to court to show the judge and/or jury, the Crown would introduce photographs of the gun, drugs, scales, and material for packaging as evidence. The officer responsible for taking the photographs at the scene or another officer who was present at the time would then be required to testify under oath regarding what is depicted in the photos and their accuracy.
Common Examples of Photographs as Evidence
Common examples of photographic evidence used in criminal trials include:
- Photographs of the deceased
- Photographs of injuries
- Photographs of property damage
- Police sketches
- Crime scene photos