offer of proof

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A lawyer’s response to opposing counsel’s objection to the admissibility of evidence at trial. When a lawyer introduces evidence either in the form of an exhibit or witness testimony and opposing counsel objects to the admissibility of the evidence, the proponent has the chance to respond to the objection with an offer of proof. An offer of proof serves two purposes, providing the proponent of the evidence the opportunity to persuade the judge not to exclude the evidence, and preserving the error on the record for appellate review. A lawyer’s goal with an offer of proof is to describe the evidence, explain the purpose of introducing the evidence, state the grounds for admissibility, and sufficiently inform the appeals court of the consequences of excluding the evidence. In federal court, Federal Rules of Evidence 103(a)(2) an appellate court cannot set aside or reverse the verdict of the trial court if an offer of proof is not provided at trial unless the purpose of the evidence is apparent from the context.

[Last updated in July of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]