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What Is The Difference Between Direct Evidence And Circumstantial Evidence? Contact Us
Indianapolis Criminal & OWI Lawyers > Blog > Criminal Defense > What Is The Difference Between Direct Evidence And Circumstantial Evidence?

What Is The Difference Between Direct Evidence And Circumstantial Evidence?


Evidence is an item or information that a party presents to make the existence of a fact more or less likely. Any item or information that tends to make a legally relevant fact more or less likely than it would be without the item or information is considered relevant evidence and thus admissible. Evidence can come in many forms, including pictures, witness testimonies, victims’ first-hand statements, documents, confessions made by suspects, DNA testing, and videos. But generally, evidence is classified as either direct evidence or circumstantial evidence. In criminal cases, it is usually the prosecution that presents evidence in an attempt to prove a defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. And the prosecution can admit both direct and circumstantial evidence in an effort to prove its case.

If you are facing criminal charges, it’s essential that you understand the difference between direct evidence and circumstantial evidence. Below, we distinguish between direct evidence and circumstantial evidence;

Direct Evidence

Just as the name suggests, direct evidence is evidence that directly and conclusively establishes a fact. It is evidence that is based on personal knowledge or observation. In other words, with direct evidence, drawing inferences or conclusions is not necessary.

Examples of direct evidence in a criminal case include the following;

  • Eye witness testimony
  • Video or audio recording of the crime
  • Confession made by the defendant

Despite the strength of direct evidence, an experienced defense attorney can help you impeach a witness or attack the accuracy of a witness’s testimony. For instance, your attorney may cross exam the witness or present evidence that calls into question a prosecution witness’s testimony.

That said, you should note that the more direct evidence the prosecution has, the stronger its case will be.

Circumstantial Evidence

Circumstantial evidence is also called indirect evidence. This type of evidence establishes facts that would require an inference to reach the ultimate conclusion.  This differs from direct evidence, which does not require one to infer or draw conclusions.

Usually, circumstantial evidence comes in the form of physical evidence that connects the defendant and the crime scene. However, there are other types of indirect evidence, such as scientific evidence, human behavior, and indirect witness testimony.

Circumstantial evidence is not as strong as direct evidence. However, if the prosecution can build a story and use indirect evidence to connect the right dots, jury members can infer that the story the prosecution is telling is the correct one. If this happens, you can be convicted, even if the prosecution did not present a single piece of direct evidence. Fortunately, a defense attorney can help reframe the story the prosecutor is trying to establish using circumstantial evidence. A skilled attorney can offer other conclusions that can be drawn from circumstantial evidence.

Legal Help Is Available

Whether or not you are convicted depends on how a jury interprets the evidence the prosecution presents. It is best that you don’t risk handling your criminal case alone. A skilled Indianapolis criminal defense lawyer at Rigney Law LLC can defend you against direct or circumstantial evidence.



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