2.4-1 Direct and Circumstantial
Revised to January 1, 2008
There are, generally speaking, two
types of evidence from which a jury can properly find the truth as to the facts
of the case. One is direct evidence, such as the testimony of an eyewitness.
The other is indirect or circumstantial evidence, that is, the inferences which
may be drawn reasonably and logically from the proven facts. Let me give you an
example of what I mean by direct evidence and circumstantial evidence. If
you're looking out a third floor window and you see smoke rising outside the
window, that's direct evidence that there is smoke outside. It is also
circumstantial evidence that there is a fire of some sort below the window.
As a general rule, the law makes no
distinction between direct and circumstantial evidence, but simply requires that
the jury find the facts in accordance with a preponderance of all the evidence
in the case, both direct and circumstantial. Thus, both direct and
circumstantial evidence are permissible evidence and each type should be treated
equally. In your consideration of the evidence, you are not limited to the bald
statements of the witness, that is, the exact words that they use. On the
contrary, you are permitted to draw from facts which you find to have been
proven such reasonable inferences as seem justified in the light of your
While you may make inferences and
rely on circumstantial evidence, you should be careful not to resort to
guesswork or speculation or conjecture to determine the facts in the case.