Circumstantial Evidence is also known as indirect evidence. Circumstantial evidence is most often employed in criminal trials. Many circumstances can create inferences about an accused’s guilt in a criminal matter, including the accused’s resistance to arrest; the presence of a motive or opportunity to commit the crime; the accused’s presence at the time and place of the crime; any denials, evasions, or contradictions on the part of the accused; and the general conduct of the accused. In addition, much Scientific Evidence is circumstantial, because it requires a jury to make a connection between the circumstance and the fact in issue. Books, movies, and television often perpetuate the belief that circumstantial evidence may not be used to convict a criminal of a crime. But this view is incorrect.
In many cases, circumstantial evidence is the only evidence linking an accused to a crime; direct evidence may simply not exist. As a result, the jury may have only circumstantial evidence to consider in determining whether to convict or acquit a person charged with a crime. In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court has stated that “circumstantial evidence is intrinsically no different from testimonial [direct] evidence”(Holland v. United States, 348 U.S. 121, 75 S. Ct. 127, 99 L. Ed. 150 ). Thus, the distinction between direct and circumstantial evidence has little practical effect in the presentation or admissibility of evidence in trials. (West’s Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.)