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What Is Direct Evidence?

There are different kinds of evidence that can be presented by either the prosecution or defense in a court trial. Direct evidence is one type of evidence that straightforwardly supports a truth claim, which directly leads to the proof of guilt or innocence of the defendant, while the other type of evidence is circumstantial evidence. Direct evidence is thus a direct proof of information presented to the judge and jury.

Direct evidence, in contrast to circumstantial evidence, provides objective facts that stand on their own and without any other necessary supporting facts. Examples of direct evidence include DNA samples and witness testimonies. Such witness testimonies must be first hand accounts of the events that transpired, and witnesses providing the testimony are believed to be more credible if they have no previous criminal history and are related or connected to the individuals involved in the case. It is the jury that decides whether or not take witness testimonies as direct or circumstantial evidence.

Circumstantial evidence requires supporting facts or inferred reasonable conclusions to prove a claim to be true compared to direct evidence, which essentially proves beyond reasonable doubt that an act was indeed committed by the defendant. Direct evidence is also often referred to as a smoking gun since it can be very conclusive and compelling evidence that will ultimately decide whether or not the person standing trial is guilty or innocent. Circumstantial evidence may also be referred to as a smoldering gun given that it can be nearly definitive.

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