Evidence in a Criminal Case

“One of the most sacred principles in the American criminal justice system, holding that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty. In other words, the prosecution must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, each essential element of the crime charged,” according to the Legal Information Institute.

The key word above is “prove.” Since the state or federal court has to “prove” that a defendant is guilty, much of the success of a case hinges on one thing and that is evidence. According to the American Bar Association, “The heart of the case is the presentation of evidence,” and evidence comes in two forms: direct and circumstantial.

  1. Direct evidence, according to the American Bar Association, speaks for itself. Direct evidence includes weapons, confessions, and eyewitness accounts.
  2. Circumstantial evidence, on the other hand, is suggestive. It suggests a fact or strongly implies a connection between the defendant and the crime, for example, the defendant being at the scene of a crime, testimony that links a defendant to a crime, or physical evidence that is highly suggestive of criminal activity.

Is Direct Evidence More Valuable?

Most trials involve both direct and circumstantial evidence. Contrary to popular belief, circumstantial evidence is used more in criminal cases than direct evidence. People may assume that direct evidence is stronger or more important than circumstantial evidence, but that is a common misconception.

In reality, direct and circumstantial evidence are equally important. Both types of evidence can be in the form of fingerprints, scientific test results, documentation, oral testimony from witnesses, etc. Both types of evidence are very important and direct evidence is not more important than circumstantial evidence.

“In a criminal trial, the burden of proof is on the government. Defendants do not have to prove their innocence. Instead, the government must provide evidence to convince the jury of the defendant’s guilt. The standard of proof in a criminal trial gives the prosecutor a much greater burden than the plaintiff in a civil trial.

“The defendant must be found guilty ‘beyond a reasonable doubt,’ which means the evidence must be so strong that there is no reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime,” according to the United States Courts.

If you’re facing criminal charges, contact Brad Bailey Law at (617) 500-0252.


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