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Offer of Proof, Evidence

Trials require evidence by a party to establish his or her claims or defenses. Only admissible evidence is permitted. Admissible evidence must generally be relevant, legally and logically. “Logical relevance” is the tendency to “make the existence of a material fact more or less probable.” State v. Freeman, 269 S.W.3d 422, 426 (Mo. 2008). “Legal relevance” balances the evidence’s probative value against “unfair prejudice, confusion of the issues, misleading the jury, undue delay, waste of time, or cumulativeness.” State v. Anderson, 76 S.W.3d 275, 276 (Mo. 2002).

At various times before and during a trial, the Judge may be called upon to rule whether evidence is objectionable. For appeal purposes, a court of appeals will typically only overturn a decision relating to an evidentiary ruling if the evidence that could have been presented would or could have impacted the trial outcome. Accordingly, the proponent must make an offer of proof to preserve what the evidence would have been so that court of appeals may evaluate on an appeal. State v. Arbuckle, 816 S.W.2d 932, 938 (Mo.Ct. App. 1991). A valid offer of proof must show (1) what the objectionable evidence was, (2) the purpose of the evidence and (3) each fact essential to establishing the admissibility of the evidence. State v. Tisius92 S.W.3d 751, 767 (Mo. 2002).

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