Direct vs Circumstantial Evidence

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Upon arriving at a crime scene, officers and detectives aim to collect clues that aid in identifying the culprit and comprehending the motive behind the crime. This investigation centers on two categories of evidence: direct evidence, deemed more crucial and substantial; and circumstantial evidence, which while not as robust, still plays a role in constructing a comprehensive case.

According to Criminal Investigation Basic Perspectives, Eleventh Edition, direct evidence refers to an eye witness who observes the crime through one of the five senses. To elaborate on this definition, we can consult Merriam-Websters dictionary, which defines direct as indicating a specific line or course. In the context of criminal investigation, this means that the observed line or course leads from the eye witness to the perpetrator.

One main issue with direct evidence is the possibility of not finding a witness or encountering a witness who is unwilling to speak due to fear of reprisal. Criminal Investigation Basic Perspectives defines circumstantial evidence as evidence that allows for an inference to be made and includes physical evidence. Physical evidence encompasses weapons, blood, imprints and impressions, tool marks, dust, dirt, traces, documents, and various other forms of trace or transfer evidence.

Although circumstantial evidence may form a comprehensive case, doubts can arise as it does not always explicitly point to one suspect. Moreover, judges and/or juries must rely on indirect judgments or inferences regarding the events at the crime scene, which poses the primary challenge with circumstantial evidence. However, when multiple pieces of circumstantial evidence are linked together, they can strengthen the investigators’ case.

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Direct vs Circumstantial Evidence. (2018, May 16). Retrieved from

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