circumstantial evidence

circumstantial evidence
proof of facts offered as evidence from which other facts are to be inferred (contrasted with direct evidence). Also called indirect evidence.
[1730-40]

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In law, evidence that is drawn not from direct observation of a fact at issue but from events or circumstances that surround it.

If a witness arrives at a crime scene seconds after hearing a gunshot to find someone standing over a corpse and holding a smoking pistol, the evidence is circumstantial, since the person may merely be a bystander who picked up the weapon after the killer dropped it. The popular notion that one cannot be convicted on circumstantial evidence is false. Most criminal convictions are based, at least in part, on circumstantial evidence that sufficiently links criminal and crime.

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law
      in law, evidence not drawn from direct observation of a fact in issue. If a witness testifies that he saw a defendant fire a bullet into the body of a person who then died, this is direct testimony of material facts in murder, and the only question is whether the witness is telling the truth. If, however, the witness is able to testify only that he heard the shot and that he arrived on the scene seconds later to see the accused standing over the corpse with a smoking pistol in his hand, the evidence is circumstantial; the accused may have been shooting at the escaping killer or merely have been a bystander who picked up the weapon after the killer had dropped it.

      The notion that one cannot be convicted on circumstantial evidence is, of course, false. Most criminal convictions are based on circumstantial evidence, although it must be adequate to meet established standards of proof. See also hearsay.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • circumstantial evidence — see evidence Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of Law. Merriam Webster. 1996. circumstantial evidence …   Law dictionary

  • Circumstantial evidence — circumstantial cir cum*stan tial (s[ e]r k[u^]m*st[a^]n shal), a. [Cf. F. circonstanciel.] [1913 Webster] 1. Consisting in, or pertaining to, circumstances or particular incidents. [1913 Webster] The usual character of human testimony is… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Circumstantial evidence — Evidence Ev i*dence, n. [F. [ e]vidence, L. Evidentia. See {Evident}.] 1. That which makes evident or manifest; that which furnishes, or tends to furnish, proof; any mode of proof; the ground of belief or judgement; as, the evidence of our… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • circumstantial evidence — n. Law that evidence which is offered to prove certain attendant circumstances from which the existence of the fact at issue may be inferred; indirect evidence …   English World dictionary

  • Circumstantial evidence — For other uses, see Circumstantial Evidence (disambiguation). Circumstantial evidence is evidence in which an inference is required to connect it to a conclusion of fact, like a fingerprint at the scene of a crime. By contrast, direct evidence… …   Wikipedia

  • circumstantial evidence — noun evidence providing only a basis for inference about the fact in dispute • Syn: ↑indirect evidence • Ant: ↑direct evidence • Topics: ↑law, ↑jurisprudence • Hypernyms: ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • circumstantial evidence — /ˌsɜkəmstænʃəl ˈɛvədəns/ (say .serkuhmstanshuhl evuhduhns) noun proof of facts offered as evidence from which other facts are to be inferred; indirect evidence: *Circumstantial evidence isn t worth a cracker in court, on something like this.… …   Australian-English dictionary

  • circumstantial evidence — evidence which shows a relation to other evidence and not directly to the crime itself …   English contemporary dictionary

  • circumstantial evidence — noun Date: 1736 evidence that tends to prove a fact by proving other events or circumstances which afford a basis for a reasonable inference of the occurrence of the fact at issue …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • circumstantial evidence — cir′cumstan′tial ev′idence n. law proof of facts offered as evidence from which other facts are to be inferred • Etymology: 1730–40 …   From formal English to slang

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