The Differences Between Hard Evidence And Circumstantial Evidence In Criminal Law

When facing a crime of any kind, the court may gather evidence to use to arrest you for the crime and to charge you with it. The evidence the court has can play a role in the outcome of your case, and because of this, it is important to understand the differences between hard evidence and circumstantial evidence.

What is hard evidence?

Hard evidence is the type of evidence that actually proves that a person was at a crime scene or that he or she committed the crime in question. While there are different types of hard evidence, the most common type is forensic evidence. Forensic evidence is the type of evidence that connects a person to a crime scene through that person's unique genetic details. Fingerprints, for example, are a form of hard evidence, as you can tie a person to fingerprints found at a crime scene. Other types of hard evidence include DNA, such as saliva or semen, and tooth prints if a bite mark was left.

What is circumstantial evidence?

The other type of evidence often used in criminal cases is called circumstantial evidence. Circumstantial evidence is very different from hard evidence, as it does not tie a person directly to a crime scene, but it can still help a defense build a good case. Circumstantial evidence is the type of evidence that investigators use to determine the events of a night. They might use witness information or cell phone records to determine when a phone call was made or where it was made. They may find the murder weapon and determine that it belonged to the person in question. These are just a few examples of circumstantial evidence.

How will the evidence affect your verdict?

It is much easier to convict a person when there is hard evidence available, but it is not impossible to convict a person with circumstantial evidence only. If the police suspect that you committed a crime, but have only circumstantial evidence to use as proof, you may have a better chance of walking away innocent than you would if there was hard evidence tying you to the crime.

If you need help fighting criminal charges, or if you just need some advice, you should contact a local criminal defense law firm to get answers and help. A criminal defense attorney from a place like Shefferman Law can give you more information on your rights and how you might respond or fight criminal charges you are facing.