Question Presented: What is Circumstantial Evidence?
Typically circumstantial evidence is defined as evidence that is not direct evidence. Two commonly presented hypotheticals used to differentiate the terms is as follows: Direct Evidence would be looking outside the window and seeing the rain or actual act of it raining; while circumstantial evidence would be seeing someone walking into a building and his or her jacket or shirt is wet. Circumstantial evidence brings about a logic and reasonable assumption or inference based upon the fact presented.
Circumstantial is generally admissible or allowed within criminal trials or charges faced by individual defendants. Moreover, circumstantial evidence can be sufficient enough to maintain a guilty verdict against an individual criminal defendant. However, this does not negate or take away from the burden of proof that must be substantiated, but it does mean that quality and sufficient circumstantial evidence can and will satisfy the beyond a reasonable standard needed by a prosecuting attorney in a criminal case. This mean that an individual does not need to be seen stealing from the cookie jar in order to be found that he did in fact take a cookie. If there are facts showing that he had or has cookies in his possession he can be found to have taken said cookie from the jar. This is a very scaled back version of a criminal offense; however, it does not negate or take away from the objective with circumstantial evidence.
This idea becomes important when reviewing or looking at any given criminal case, whether felony or misdemeanor. Due to the ability of circumstantial evidence being used to substantiate or support a prosecutor’s burden of proof it becomes necessary to attack all areas of such evidence, even more importantly than when attempting to rebut direct evidence. Moreover, the nature of circumstantial evidence can be ambiguous since in some situations the use of such evidence can be a benefit for both the prosecution or the defense, depending on how an individual frames that particular piece of evidence. For example, the lack of fingerprints found at a crime scene connected to a hypothetical defendant would be a key argument for the defense; however, the prosecutor could also argue effectively that the hypothetical defendant would not leave prints when wearing gloves, if such were able to be articulated in such a case. The point of the matter is that any criminal matter fixated or containing circumstantial evidence should be closely reviewed by an experienced criminal defense lawyer.