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Probative Value

Definition - What does Probative Value mean?

Probative value refers to the extent which a piece of evidence tends to prove something. Probative value is a term commonly used by attorneys during a court setting such as a motion or a trial. More specifically, in a court setting, in order for a piece of evidence to be admitting into court, it must be found to have probative value.

Justipedia explains Probative Value

Rule 401 of the Federal Rules of Evidence requires that in order for a piece of evidence to be admitted in court it must be found to be relevant. To determine whether a piece of evidence is relevant there is a two-prong test that is administered. The first part of the test determines whether the evidence has probative value. "Evidence is relevant if: it has any tendency to make a fact more or less probable than it would be without the evidence."

If evidence is found to have no probative value it will not be admitted. Irrelevant evidence that does not prove anything is misleading to juries and could be cause for mistrial. In order to prove that evidence has probative value, prosecutors and defendants must prove that the presence of the evidence makes the facts of the case more probable.

Here's an example of evidence that may or may not have probative value. In a murder trial, evidence that the defendant had an argument with the victim would be considered probative. However, evidence that the defendant had an argument with an unrelated neighbor would not be probative.

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