Having the effect of proof, tending to prove, or actually proving.
When a legal controversy goes to trial, the parties seek to prove their cases by the introduction of evidence. All courts are governed by rules of evidence that describe what types of evidence are admissible. One key element for the admission of evidence is whether it proves or helps prove a fact or issue. If so, the evidence is deemed probative. Probative evidence establishes or contributes to proof.
Probative facts are data that have the effect of proving an issue or other information. Probative facts establish the existence of other facts. They are matters of evidence that make the existence of something more probable or less probable than it would be without them. They are admissible as evidence and aid the court in the final resolution of a disputed issue. For example, in the case of a motor vehicle accident, a witness’s testimony that she saw one automobile enter the intersection on a red light is a probative fact about whether the driver was at fault.
Evidence has probative value if it tends to prove an issue. However, probative value may refer to whether the evidence is admissible. Rules of evidence generally state that relevant evidence, which tends to prove or disprove an alleged fact, may be excluded if its probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice, confusion of the issues, or misleading the jury, or by considerations of undue delay, waste of time, or needless presentation of cumulative evidence. A trial court must use a Balancing test to make this determination, but rules of evidence generally require that relevant evidence with probative value be excluded only if it is substantially outweighed by one of the dangers described in the rule.
West’s Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.