Definition - What does Inadmissible mean?

Inadmissible is a term used to refer to something, usually evidence, that is not allowed to be used in court.

Evidence brought into a courtroom must be approved by the presiding judge to ensure that the Federal Rules of Evidence are followed. While certain pieces of evidence can be highly relevant or pertinent to the case at hand, they do not automatically have the right to be brought up within a court of law.

The rules regarding evidence eligibility vary between jurisdictions; there are different reasons why a piece of evidence might be labeled or considered to be inadmissible:

  • The evidence is derived through hearsay (told by a person about someone else).
  • The evidence was illegally obtained (such as illegal wiretapping).
  • The evidence is circumstantial (evidence that cannot be proven to be directly related to the case).

Justipedia explains Inadmissible

Evidence is crucial; it’s the most important factor that a jury or judge relies upon while rendering judgment in a court case. Testimony, exhibits or documents that cannot be presented to a judge or jury because it fails to meet criteria of admissibility is considered inadmissible evidence. These types of evidence are usually cited as inadmissible and omitted, although not in all cases.

Although the criteria for admissibility differ according to the jurisdiction, generally, a judge looks for three criteria that evidence must meet in order to be admissible:

  1. The evidence must be relevant to the case;
  2. the evidence must be reliable; and
  3. the prejudicial value of the evidence must not outweigh its probative value.

If a piece of evidence fails to meet any of the criteria mentioned above, it's deemed inadmissible evidence by the judge. The Federal Rules of Evidence also determines what evidence can and cannot be admitted in a court of law.

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