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The Concept of Evidentiary Hearing

The Concept of Evidentiary Hearing

There are a number of procedures that are followed before a case comes up for a final trial. One such is 'Evidentiary Hearing'. So what does evidentiary hearing mean? Read this Buzzle article to know more about this important concept.
Samarpita Choudhury
Course of Action
As soon as a session of evidentiary hearing is to be conducted, the concerned officer in charge has to conduct a fair hearing, which is recorded, keeping all sorts of hindrances and external influences at bay.
Before attempting to identify with the concept of evidentiary hearing, it is advisable to be familiar with 'Preliminary Hearing'. After a case is lodged, and an arrest is made, there is a judicial proceeding done before the actual trial. This is done in the presence of a judicial officer who decides the eligibility and the need of actually having the case put in trial or not. He takes the decision based on the evidence present. This is termed as a preliminary hearing.

An evidentiary hearing is that proceeding which can happen at any time, irrespective of whether it is a part of the preliminary hearing or during the trial. The idea is to present the evidence as part of the case requirements and treatment of the case. In most cases, an evidentiary hearing precedes the trial by a short time span.
Evidentiary Hearing: What it Means
Now, as the name suggests, an evidentiary hearing involves the evidence that is crucial for the case. Here, as a matter of fact, the evidence pertaining to the case is presented and examined in order to determine whether the person is guilty or not. This can be in the form of written documents, also called affidavits. These documents are penned after the person has taken an oath before a notary. It could also be in the form of cross examination of the statements made by both the parties. If however, the judge, during the course of an evidentiary hearing, finds that there is no sufficient evidence to support the fact that the accused is guilty, he is released on an immediate basis by the court and the case is dismissed.

To understand the legal definition of an evidentiary hearing better, let us assume the case of a car accident which has taken place in the city. If there is a witness who can provide substantial clues about the driver who is responsible for the mishap, then the evidence provided by the witness is deemed as 'evidentiary'. This is because, his statement is directly deciding the course of the case. Now, there is a hearing which is conducted before the actual case trial, wherein the judge decides the viability of the evidence, and whether the evidence fulfills the criteria to be presented as evidence during the trial or not. This is known as the evidentiary hearing.

In civil cases, it can be encountered in many divorce cases, where there are custody issues involved. It can also be seen in criminal cases where it is observed during the preliminary hearing.
Factors for Evidentiary Hearing
  • At the time of an unwarranted arrest, the said person has the right to defend himself by calling for an evidentiary hearing.
  • It can also happen in cases of habeas corpus. This is a condition where the imprisoned person is brought before a court of law in order to assess if at all he/she should be imprisoned in the first place.
  • This kind of hearing is also done in order for the court to decide whether the case is within the jurisdiction of the court or not. This means the territorial jurisdiction; that is, the crime has to take place in the geographical location of the court, and the jurisdiction involving the power of the court. It simply is whether the court has the power to take up the case.
Federal Rules of Evidentiary Hearing
Now, there are some presiding rules regarding evidence. These are known as the Federal Rules of Evidence. These are a set of rules which decide the inclusion of the evidence into the court. These rules are uniform and are to be adhered by all the parties. The rules are also to be followed by the judges, irrespective of the nature of case. They need to follow the rules in such a way that they can stop doctored witnesses and evidence well ahead of the trial. These rules are applicable to civil, contempt, and maritime cases.
It is thus seen that an evidentiary hearing is an integral part of a case where the prosecution and the defense, both, get equal opportunity to examine the evidence that they would provide at the actual trial.