Circumstantial Evidence And Its Legal Nuances

Circumstantial Evidence And Its Legal Nuances


In the world of law, evidence holds immense importance. It makes the essence of all cases and based on the quality and quantity of this evidence, important decisions are made. To make things clearer, legally there are different types of evidence as well. There are witness testimonies, documentary evidence and physical evidence. Broadly speaking, evidence can be divided into circumstantial evidence and direct evidence.

As the term defines it, direct evidence is evidence that directly proves an allegation. For instance, if a person has seen a murder being committed and testifies, that would be direct evidence. However, if a person testifies that he heard his neighbor yelling for help and upon reaching the neighbor’s house, saw a person leaving the house with a bloody knife in his hands that would count as circumstantial evidence.

So, direct evidence out rightly proves a crime committed by a certain person while circumstantial evidence points towards or implies that a crime has been committed by a certain person. Circumstantial evidence is based on logical reasoning and as the term states, it is the facts inferred from the circumstances that prove if a person can be convicted for a murder or not.

What is Circumstantial Evidence?

Circumstantial evidence is an indirect form of proof that includes certain facts from which further facts can be derived to prove a case. It can be presented in a civil as well as criminal case and is of two types.

  • Human Behavior

This type of proof is derived from the way the convict is acting before or after the crime. For instance, a convicted murderer may be acting unusually after the murder or may have been violent in the past with the victim before the murder. Sometimes, the convicts become more nervous than is normal during the inquiry. It is such changes in the human behavior from which circumstantial evidence can be derived.

  • Forensic Evidence

This type of proof refers to the biological aspects including blood, hair, finger prints, etc. It also includes physical evidence such as videos, photos, etc. However, all forensic evidence has to be supported by witness testimony.

The Significance of Circumstantial Evidence

Direct evidence is of course stronger than circumstantial evidence and the guilt of a suspect can easily be proven on that basis. However, when making decisions based on circumstantial evidence, the quality of proof matters. This quality has to be judged by the jury. Here, the degree of probability becomes an important player. So, the proof or witnesses have to be strong and logical in order to have an impact on the proceedings of the case.

Thus a proof that has a higher probability of proving the guilt of a suspect will have more significance than one that is not as strong. For instance, there are two witnesses in a murder case. One states that he saw the suspect run out of the house with a knife in his hand. The other states that he saw the suspect standing by the victim with a knife in his hand. The degree of probability states the statement of the latter will hold more water.

Ramsay Horton is a university professor and a book collector. His recent interaction with a criminal case brought him to get in touch with  who proved to be exceptionally well-equipped.