n Journal for Juridical Science - The use and misuse of statistical evidence in criminal proceedings

Volume 32, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0258-252X



This article explains how statistical analysis of evidence can be used by lawyers for interpreting data in criminal justice proceedings. It elucidates basic statistical terms which need to be understood by both prosecutors and defence lawyers in presenting their cases to the court. It also shows that such knowledge is essential in cross-examining an expert in court and how statistical argument should be used correctly to avoid arriving at fallacious deductions. It is impossible in a single article to fully explain the knowledge and technical skills required to become an expert in statistics, however, the legal professional needs to be able to interpret and evaluate statistical concepts and results which are commonly used in criminal law. The use of statistical evidence in the legal system is ever increasing and obligates lawyers as well as expert witnesses to obtain a strong background in the physical sciences including a basic understanding of statistics in order better to make expert testimony intelligible to the decision-maker.

Die artikel verduidelik hoe statistiese ontleding van getuienis deur regsgeleerdes in kriminele hofsake gebruik kan word om gegewens te interpreteer. Basiese statistiese terme wat aanklaers sowel as verdedigers moet verstaan ten einde hul sake in die hof te kan stel word toegelig. Die artikel toon ook aan dat sodanige kennis noodsaaklik is om wetenskaplike deskundiges in die hof te kan ondervra en hoe statistiese bewysgronde korrek gebruik moet word om to voorkom dat valse gevolgtrekkings gemaak word. Dit is nie moontlik om in een enkele artikel volledig te verduidelik watter kennis en tegniese vaardighede nodig is om 'n deskundige in statistiese metodes te word nie. Dit is egter nodig vir 'n regsgeleerde om in staat te wees om statistiese konsepte wat alledaags in kriminele reg gebruik word te vertolk en te evalueer. Die gebruik van statistiese getuienis in hofsake is aan die toeneem en maak dit noodsaaklik vir regsgeleerdes en deskundige getuies om 'n stewige kennis van natuurwetenskappe te bekom. Hierby ingesluit is 'n basiese begrip van statistiek sodat dit moontlik sal wees om deskundige getuienis meer verstaanbaar vir die hof te maak.

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