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What is circumstantial evidence?

On Behalf of | Sep 23, 2021 | Blog, Criminal Defense |

Whenever the term “circumstantial evidence” comes up on TV or in the movies, people may dismiss the evidence as not very serious. However, people in Colorado should know that circumstantial evidence is an important part of many court cases. This evidence can be very helpful, if not conclusive, in showing how a crime may have been committed.

Examples of circumstantial evidence

Circumstantial evidence can be provided by eyewitnesses, scientific tests or by the accused person. If an eyewitness sees you in the area where a crime was committed, that may establish your opportunity to have done it. If a DNA test shows that you were at the scene, the same thing is true. Additionally, if you tell a number of different stories about where you were when the crime was being committed, it may seem to investigators and jurors like you’re lying. That’s circumstantial evidence, too.

The good news for defendants preparing a criminal defense is that a lot of circumstantial evidence can be explained away. For example, you may have a good reason to be at the location that becomes a crime scene. Maybe you work or live there. A defense attorney may strive make this clear to the jury. Casting this kind of reasonable doubt on the case brought by the prosecution might make it more likely that you will be acquitted.

Circumstantial vs. direct evidence

Circumstantial evidence forces investigators, judges and juries to use their best judgement. There’s a step between the evidence and what happened. Direct evidence lays out facts. One example of direct evidence would be a confession made by a suspect.

Generally speaking, a prosecutor will not bring a case that rests only on a few pieces of circumstantial evidence. They understand that while it’s admissible, this type of evidence has many limitations.