8 Steps To Present Video Evidence in Court

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Getting the pieces together and studying how to present video evidence in court can be a daunting task, especially if you’ve never done it before. But that’s something you’re going to have to get used to if it in any way aligns with your job responsibilities. The good news is, the process gets much easier once you have a tried and proven system in place. Don’t worry – we’ll teach you everything you need to know!

What you’ll find below is an 8-step guide on using video evidence in court the proper way. It contains the most important pieces of information you need to keep in mind to ensure that the video evidence presented gets admitted in court without stumbling into too many roadblocks or objections on the way. Keep in mind that any specifics may vary from country to country, but for the most part, the process will be similar if not the same.

Without any further ado, the step-by-step process is as follows:

STEP 1: Secure the Evidence Properly


Since this is a precondition for everything that comes after, you can think of it as step 0. Fail to do this part correctly, and the court may dismiss it on the basis of improper procedure.

Either way, here is a brief overview of what this step entails:

  • Identification: don’t touch the evidence before identifying it. Document the entire process, including the location, digital forensics experts involved, etc.
  • Collection: the objective is to physically collect the media that contains the evidence without altering its condition.
  • Acquisition: by using the right digital forensics tools, a certified forensic examiner proceeds to make a forensic image so the state of the original device can remain unaltered.
  • Preservation: this part is all about storing the evidence securely in a locker.
  • Analysis: through professional digital forensic analysis, we reconstruct the events exactly as they occurred.

STEP 2: Maintain the Chain of Custody at All Times


This is a general pointer that applies to the entire digital forensics investigation. Technically, it’s another step 0, because everything depends on it. Fail to keep this in mind, and you’ve just given the opposing legal team great leverage to dismantle the entire case.

We’ve already written a detailed guide on maintaining the chain of custody when handling digital evidence, so be sure to give it a read. The gist of it is to always keep bulletproof records whenever someone accesses the evidence in question, including events like:

  • Analysis
  • Transfer
  • Collection
  • The identity of the investigator
  • Date and time of events pertaining to it
  • Purpose
  • Examination
  • etc.

The golden rule is to document everything and make screenshots when necessary. Never work on the original to avoid having its legitimacy come under question – make a copy instead.

STEP 3: Verify the Authenticity of the Video Evidence


Before bringing the video evidence before the jury and the court, you need to make sure it’s authentic and legitimate. In other words, you need to rule out the possibility of it being manipulated, tampered with, or a straight-out fake.

In addition, video evidence in court can only be admitted if:

  • It’s an accurate representation of the events that occurred
  • It proves that a crime has taken place
  • It’s relevant to the case

A good trick to use is to take a screenshot of one of its frames and use tools like Google reverse image search and TinEye. This can give you a clue whether it has also been published somewhere else, in which case it’s obviously a fake.

Another method a video forensic analyst may use is to slow it down and watch it in slow motion. Awkward-looking transitions are usually a dead giveaway the video has been tampered with in some shape or form.

Don’t forget the power of checking its metadata. This can give you valuable clues pertaining to its origin, including where it was shot. Then, all you need to do is to enter the coordinates obtained into a geolocation tool like Google Earth, and the answers you’re looking for should be there.

As a final pointer, you should also check whether the date and time displayed in the footage are correct. For obvious reasons, if the timer shows 1AM and there’s a sunny day outside, something is amiss. Bear in mind this could be due to a simple misconfiguration of the CCTV unit, though.

STEP 4: Sort the Video Evidence According to Its Relevancy


The best approach to how to present video evidence in court is making sure that whatever materials you present to the judge can serve as proof and don’t waste time. For instance, don’t bring the entire 10 hour CCTV video footage – pick out the interesting bits instead, the ones that are relevant to the crime taking place.

Once you’ve narrowed down these key moments, it’s time to arrange them into a hierarchy from the most to the least important. To illustrate an example, a clear recording that shows the criminal’s face and the crime committed from a practical angle is the holy grail of obtainable evidence.

However, in real life, ideal circumstances are not always the luxury you’ll have, which means you’re going to need to work with what’s available. In fact, law enforcement professionals often have to deal with challenges like these when working with video evidence and learn how to overcome them.

Long story short: always put your best foot forward. The same holds true when presenting video evidence in court. If you have an Ace up your sleeve, on the table with it. Otherwise, a King or Queen may do just fine.

STEP 5: Convert the Video Evidence to the Right Format

File Exchange

Many law enforcement professionals keep asking us: can you use video evidence in court? In general, the answer is “yes”. However, you should make sure to use a tool that converts the file in a forensically sound manner so as to preserve metadata and other relevant file properties.

In the courtroom, there’s no time for technical issues and you simply cannot afford a crucial piece of video evidence not being played due to something trivial like file format incompatibilities. Therefore, it’s a good idea to convert the video file into a format that’s compatible with most modern players.

A court-friendly solution for video file conversion

If you’re looking for a suitable solution that does all of this, consider giving SalvationDATA’s VIP 2.0 a look. Its Ultra Transcoder functionality was designed for making spotless file conversions the court will have no second thoughts about admitting as evidence. In case they request the originals, you’ll be able to play the footage “as is” thanks to VIP 2.0’s Ultra Player feature.

Keep in mind that VIP 2.0 will also be one of your most valuable digital forensics tools when extracting and analyzing the video evidence – remember that the goal is preserving its integrity and it’s got you fully covered in this regard.

STEP 6: Review How to Present the Video Exhibits in Court

Video Evidence

Since every country has its own laws regarding how to present video evidence in court, we can’t give you any specific advice. However, there are easily-searchable resources you can study and we strongly encourage you to do so.

To avoid having to stumble in the dark, there is something you can do to enter the courtroom prepared. Namely, you should consider studying one of the court’s previous hearings to get an idea of how the procedure works. This should give you a solid idea of how to:

  • Prove your case
  • Present a list of exhibits
  • Summarize your points
  • Conduct yourself professionally before the judge
  • Call your witnesses to the stand
  • Cross-examine the other party’s witnesses
  • Respond if the other party raises an objection to the video evidence presented
  • Explain what the video evidence represents
  • State that you have observed and analyzed the video footage
  • Testify the fact that the video evidence presented is genuine and is an accurate representation of what happened

If you’re the shy type, there’s no shame in practicing before a mirror. Speak up and practice these lines so you’ll be comfortable when it’s finally time to do it in a live court setting.

STEP 7: Label the Exhibits Accordingly


Those who are familiar with how to present video evidence in court realize the importance of marking the exhibits with an exhibit number. Once again, research the exact requirements and rules in your country before proceeding.

One issue you may come across is that the medium presented may turn out to be of smaller dimensions, which makes writing on it with a marker a challenging task (this is often the case with flash drives and memory cards). The good news is that the solution is rather straightforward: simply enclose it in a bag and place a sticker on it.

Don’t forget to bring extra copies!

To make sure you can offer a copy to anyone who may ask for it (the judge, the jury, and the opposing legal representation), it’s recommended to bring copies on multiple storage media with you.

Consider transferring the files to:

  • CDs
  • DVDs
  • Flash drives
  • Memory cards
  • The cloud

STEP 8: Prepare Your Presentation


If you’ve followed all the previous steps correctly, you should now be ready to pack up and prepare for the big day (it doesn’t hurt to re-read the list to make sure it’s all there). Organize your materials, list them, and don’t forget to bring extra playback gear just in case the court doesn’t have it on-site.

Apart from the exhibits themselves, you should also carry the necessary paperwork with you. The obvious thing that comes to mind is the chain of custody logs. Also, in case the video contains any dialogue or spoken word, don’t forget to bring the official transcript with you as prepared by a certified professional. For the convenience of the judge and the legal personnel, you should mark who is speaking every line and append the exact timestamps next to them.

Last but not least, don’t forget the psychological part of your final preparations. Pat yourself on the back, knowing that you’ve done all you could to ensure a good outcome, breathe in, breathe out, and show confidence when the time comes for you to shine in court.


By following the exact steps outlined above, you should be equipped with the knowledge necessary on how to present video evidence in court.

Feel free to re-read the guidelines as many times as necessary and summon the confidence you’ll need to crush the opposing legal team with cold, hard facts and bring the guilty before justice.

Best of luck in court!