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What Is the Best Evidence Rule?

The best evidence rule contends that evidence is best in its most original state. Being original, it is assumed that the document contains first hand information free from manipulation and thereby not tampered. It rarely happens that the copy of the original evidence is accepted in hearings or trials because the court still prefers the original document. It is assumed that if the original evidence is absent, an error or fraud in the copy is likely to occur.

It is only in instances when the original evidence gets lost or destroyed that a copy may be accepted. However, as there is a possibility that certain information may not be accurate, a witness needs to be presented before the court. The witness will be responsible for proving that all content written in the copy of the original are true and that nothing was changed or altered. Once the copy is proven to be fake, the witness may also be held liable.

The best evidence rule dates back to the 1800’s. In the olden days, most documents were made by hand courtesy of a clerk. This is also the time when numerous documents were copied and changed. Photographs were also easily edited and reprinted. The alterations were all done by hand and the difference from the original was hard to tell.

Today as technology continuous to advance, many people still attempt to edit and manipulate important evidences with the belief that modifications won’t easily be detected. However, this advancement in technology also benefits the court in that the original evidence is kept safely to avoid damage and loss.

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