I recently received this question. What is circumstantial evidence and can I prove my accident case or be convicted of a crime with only circumstantial evidence?
The answer is yes. In order to understand circumstantial evidence, we first have to define direct evidence.
Direct evidence is something that is observed first hand and testified to by a witness.
Circumstantial evidence is proof of certain facts and circumstances from which the judge or jury may infer that the facts in dispute either existed or didn't exist.
Here are a couple of illustrations showing how circumstantial evidence is applied.
A guy is on the ground with blood all over from a stab wound. Somebody comes up and sees me standing over the body full of blood with a knife in my hand. The witness didn't see me stab the guy, however, a judge or jury could infer that I stabbed the guy because I was in the area, had the knife in my hand, and was full of blood. I could be convicted of stabbing the guy even though no one saw me stab the guy even though the case is circumstantial.
Here is another illustration.
Before I go to bed I look outside and everything is clear and dry. When I wake up, I go outside and there is snow on the ground. I can infer from the snow on the ground that it snowed while I was asleep.
So to recap, you can prove an accident claim or be convicted of a crime with circumstantial evidence only, direct evidence is always better and it is subject to less attack, however, circumstantial evidence is sufficient.
If you have any questions about this a Northwest Indiana legal matter, give us a call at (219) 874-4878.