– from Sarah U. in Elm Grove, WI

Question Details:

I have heard the term circumstantial evidence as well as direct evidence. What is the difference in a criminal case?

Criminal Defense Attorney Response:

In a criminal case evidence is anything used to try and prove a defendant is guilty of a criminal offense. In a criminal case evidence of two types will be presented to the judge and jury. The two types of evidence are as your question pointed out circumstantial evidence and direct evidence. During the process of a criminal trial, the plaintiff and defendant will both present a blend of evidence to prove guilt or innocence of the crime.

Circumstantial evidence

First, circumstantial evidence is evidence that is presented to draw inferences about how events of the criminal case tie together. In a trial both sides, plaintiff and defense, will search for this evidence to corroborate their individual claims. Since this type of evidence is not clear visible or present this type of evidence must be corroborated if a conviction is to result.

As stated, circumstantial evidence is suggestive evidence. The plaintiff must present enough evidence to ensure this type of evidence is believed. Whether or not it is believed typically has a large influence on the final verdict. This is especially true in cases where minimal direct evidence is present.

Direct evidence

The most straightforward type of evidence is direct evidence. This evidence is more factual and can easily be proven. It does not ask the jury or judge to develop an opinion about the evidence. It is present to provide proof that is true beyond a reasonable doubt. An example of direct evidence is a bat with fingerprints of the defendant and the victims blood. This places the weapon in the hand of the defendant as well as the corroborates the weapon used in the assault. Other types of direct evidence include DNA , video surveillance, audio recordings, and even some types of testimony.

The type of witness testimony that is considered direct evidence is heavily dependant on the background of the witness. Also if the witness testimony is an opinion of a forensic expert it will likely be taken under strong consideration.

If you have further questions or need more clarification give us a call.

Lawyer Jeff Hughes from Sterling Law Offices, S.C.
Jeff Hughes, J.D.

Managing Partner

lexis-nexis-image lawyers-image justia-image hg-image findlaw-image avvo-image