The Difference Between Direct and Circumstantial Evidence

By: Wallin & Klarich

Every time there is a highly publicized criminal trial, the legal experts and/or analysts will usually reference both circumstantial and direct evidence.
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Moreover, you may hear these terms used on your favorite television program such as C.S.I., Law and Order, etc. But, what does direct and circumstantial evidence mean?

First, it is important to note what the term “evidence” means. There is jury instruction which defines “evidence.” The jury instruction reads as follows: “Evidence consists of the testimony of witnesses, writings, material objects, or anything presented to the senses and offered to prove the existence or non-existence of a fact. Evidence is either direct or circumstantial. It is not necessary that facts be proved by direct evidence. They also may be proved by circumstantial evidence or by a combination of direct and circumstantial evidence. Both direct and circumstantial evidence are acceptable as a means of proof. Neither is entitled to any greater weight than the other.”

Direct evidence as defined in a jury instruction is “evidence that directly proves a fact. It is evidence which by itself, if found to be true, establishes that fact.
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” An example of direct evidence would be testimony from a witness who saw a defendant doing graffiti on a wall.

Circumstantial evidence, on the other hand, is evidence that “if found to be true, proves a fact from which an inference of the existence of another fact may be drawn. An inference is a deduction of fact that may logically and reasonably be drawn from another fact or group of facts established by the evidence.” An example of circumstantial evidence would be as follows: If graffiti was done on a wall at a certain date and time, testimony from a witness who saw a defendant walking by that wall around the specific date and time.

We hope that the information in this blog gives you some helpful insight into the difference between direct and circumstantial evidence. If you or a loved one needs assistance with any criminal defense matter call Wallin and Klarich today. Wallin and Klarich has a team of highly skilled, aggressive Souther California criminal defense attorneys ready to take your call 7 days week, 24 hours a day! Wallin and Klarich has been in the business of helping people with their criminal defense matters for over 30 years and we would like to help you with yours! A qualified, experienced attorney from the firm will be able to evaluate your case when you call.

Posted In: Criminal Defense