Direct vs. Circumstantial Evidence: What’s the Difference?
Evidence plays a key role in criminal cases, as it can prove a person’s guilt or innocence. Without significant, reliable, and convincing evidence, it can be difficult to determine who to put behind bars and who should be set free.
In a criminal trial, there are two types of evidence: Direct and circumstantial. What does these mean?
According to the American Bar Association, direct evidence speaks for itself. It essentially establishes a fact and includes eyewitness accounts, a confession or a weapon. Direct evidence alone can prove a person’s guilt if it can be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.
Examples of direct evidence include:
- Fingerprints on a murder weapon
- Video footage of a crime being committed (robbery, assault, murder, etc.)
- A witness testifies that they saw the defendant committing the crime in question
- A defendant’s semen was discovered in a victim’s rape kit examination
- A defendant admits to committing the crime they were charged with
Circumstantial evidence suggests a fact by implication or inference, such as the appearance of a crime scene, testimony that suggests a relationship with a crime or physical evidence that suggests criminal activity. Like direct evidence, circumstantial evidence alone can indicate someone’s guilt, but it’s not as straightforward as direct evidence. Circumstantial evidence adds context and helps establish a broader understanding of the facts of a case.
Examples of circumstantial evidence include:
- A witness testifies that they saw the defendant quickly driving away from the crime scene at the time the alleged offense happened
- A defendant was convicted of similar crimes in the past
- A defendant’s significant other broke up with them two days before the alleged offense occurred
- The victim’s blood and hair follicles were found in a defendant’s vehicle after the alleged offense took place
- A defendant purchased a gun hours after getting fired from their job
We Can Fight to Prove Your Innocence. Let’s Get Started!
Our Milwaukee criminal defense attorney is dedicated to exhausting our legal resources and knowledge to strengthen your case. Whether we gather circumstantial or direct evidence or both, our lawyer can utilize such proof to your advantage, and will do so carefully and strategically.
We understand the value of both types of evidence and know that it can either make or break your case. As a result, we are thoughtful and thorough every step of the way to ensure no stone is left unturned. Your freedom is our priority. Contact (414) 882-8382 to get started on your defense!