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Monday, April 3, 2017

What is Circumstantial Evidence?

     When inferences of guilt or innocence are drawn from the analysis of tangible things or circumstances, this physical evidence is by definition circumstantial. For example, a burglar suspect's latent fingerprint on a safe at the scene of a safe cracking is direct proof that the burglar had been present at the scene of the crime. To conclude that the suspect was also the safe cracker requires an inference. This makes the crime scene fingerprint evidence circumstantial. This doesn't necessarily mean that circumstantial evidence is weak. On the contrary, unless the suspect in this case can otherwise explain his presence at the burglary site, he will be convicted.

     Circumstantial evidence in the form of physical clues and scientific analysis, at least in theory, is more reliable than direct evidence such as eyewitness identifications, confessions, and the testimony of jailhouse informants. In other words, just because a prosecutor's case is based entirely on circumstantial evidence doesn't mean it's weak. For example, the O. J Simpson double murder case was based entirely on circumstantial evidence. Simpson beat the rap, but the case against him was strong. 

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