Passionate about what we do. Passionate about serving you.

  1. Home
  2.  → 
  3. Criminal Defense
  4.  → What’s the difference between circumstantial and direct evidence?

What’s the difference between circumstantial and direct evidence?

On Behalf of | Nov 29, 2022 | Criminal Defense

Evidence is critical in a criminal case. Yet, not all evidence deserves to be given equal weight when it’s considered by a judge or jury.

If the police charge you with a crime, you need to understand what, if any, evidence they have and what category it falls into.

Direct evidence is something that clearly relates to a crime

For example, video footage of you assaulting someone or a security guard saying they watched you put unpaid items into your bag before trying to walk out of the store would all be direct evidence that could be offered up by the prosecution.

Circumstantial evidence is something that likely relates to a crime

If someone sees you washing blood from a knife a few minutes after a stabbing a few streets away, that could be circumstantial evidence that you’re somehow connected to the crime.

If a shop reports specific items stolen (but did not see you stealing them) and the police stop you a mile down the street and find them in your bag, that would be circumstantial evidence.

In both examples, it could be a coincidence, but the chances are so unlikely that it is probable it is not. You could have been washing a knife used to cut meat for a barbeque. Someone could have put those unpaid items into your bag when you were not looking. Yet the circumstantial evidence suggests you committed those crimes.

The prosecution will look to back up each piece of evidence with others. For example, the police found a hat with your DNA at the crime scene. The prosecution may claim you lost it in a struggle. It could be that you once borrowed the hat from the person that committed the assault. Or that it is your hat, but it fell off yesterday when you were walking along that street.

Challenging the validity of the prosecution’s evidence requires experienced legal guidance. Getting it is the best way to increase your chance of a successful criminal defense.