Evidence is crucial in a criminal case. A court cannot convict someone based solely on a police officer’s hunch.
Yet, not all evidence is equal. There are two categories to understand:
1. Direct evidence
This gives a prosecutor a much better chance of securing a conviction. For example:
- Someone saw you do it
- A camera captured you doing it
- You admit you did it
There may still be a way to contest this evidence. Perhaps the eyewitness got it wrong, the camera footage is not as clear as the prosecutor makes out, or you confessed under duress.
2. Circumstantial evidence
This lacks a direct link to the event, but it may still be enough to convict you, especially if the prosecution can link several pieces of circumstantial evidence. Examples could include:
- Your fingerprints on something
- Your DNA at the crime scene
- An item of your clothing found close to the crime scene
- Your behavior or actions before or after the event
Here’s an example: The police find a car crashed into a streetlamp but no one in sight. They trace the license plate to you. If no one saw the crash, you deny it, and no cameras captured the event, then there is no direct evidence that you crashed the car. However, you could still face charges and an eventual conviction based on circumstantial evidence because:
- It’s your vehicle
- A bar owner says that you were drinking in their bar that night
- You have injuries consistent with a car crash
- You fail a blood alcohol test
Whatever evidence you face, do not underestimate it. Understanding how to counter the picture the prosecution is building will be vital to your defense.