Direct evidence is straightforward: It is a witness's testimony or a physical object.
A witness's testimony may be:
- What was seen, heard, smelled, tasted or felt.
- What was told to the witness.
- What the witness created.
- What the witness thinks.
Some testimony may be recorded before trial or, although live, may be brought into trial through technological means, such as closed-circuit or video television.
Direct evidence that is physical in nature can be an object retrieved from a location, a living person or a dead body. Direct physical evidence can be created outside of trial, such as:
- A crime scene photograph.
- A tire impression cast.
- Data from a testing instrument.
Direct physical evidence can also be created at the time of trial as an illustration, such as a child drawing or indicating the part of their body that was allegedly touched or injured.
Conversely, circumstantial evidence is indirect proof of a fact. Circumstantial evidence is information that can be relied on to infer the existence of another fact. Circumstantial evidence describes or defines parameters or situations from which a reliable conclusion may be drawn. Examples of circumstantial evidence are:
- Reports on weather conditions.
- Possession of recently stolen property.
For more on relevancy, see Pretrial Rules of Evidence, Relevance.
Additional Online Courses
- What Every First Responding Officer Should Know About DNA Evidence
- Collecting DNA Evidence at Property Crime Scenes
- DNA – A Prosecutor’s Practice Notebook
- Crime Scene and DNA Basics
- Laboratory Safety Programs
- DNA Amplification
- Population Genetics and Statistics
- Non-STR DNA Markers: SNPs, Y-STRs, LCN and mtDNA
- Firearms Examiner Training
- Forensic DNA Education for Law Enforcement Decisionmakers
- What Every Investigator and Evidence Technician Should Know About DNA Evidence
- Principles of Forensic DNA for Officers of the Court
- Law 101: Legal Guide for the Forensic Expert
- Laboratory Orientation and Testing of Body Fluids and Tissues
- DNA Extraction and Quantitation
- STR Data Analysis and Interpretation
- Communication Skills, Report Writing, and Courtroom Testimony
- Español for Law Enforcement
- Amplified DNA Product Separation for Forensic Analysts