What is Circumstantial Evidence?

Everyone knocks circumstantial evidence, but is it really so bad?

Truth is, you would be surprised how powerful and reliable circumstantial evidence usually is. Don’t knock it.

Here is an example of circumstantial evidence. You leave a saucer of milk on the counter and step out of the room. You return to the room a little later and the saucer is where you left it, but it’s now empty. Your cat has a milk mustache and is purring with contentment. The circumstantial evidence is that your cat drank the milk. Let’s face it, that’s pretty solid evidence.

Another example. You hear the weather forecast in the morning which is that it will rain later. You are now away from your home inside a building for quite some time, unable to see outside. You observe someone enter the building wearing a rain coat and holding an umbrella that is dripping water. The circumstantial evidence is that it is raining outside. You don’t need to see the rain to know it is raining.

One final example. Your return to your red porsche at the store parking lot to find that someone hit it. There is damage along the rear quarter panel. There is also white paint present at the location of the damage. You also observe that there is a white car parked next to you, and the front corner has some damage, with some red paint. The circumstantial evidence is that you know who hit your car. You didn’t need to see the culprit do it to know who did it.

Now compare that with some direct evidence.

How many times have you been with a friend or your spouse, and you both experience or observe the same exact thing, together, and then later, you hear that friend or spouse tell to another person what happened, and you think to yourself that they have it completely wrong? Let’s face it, we’ve all had that happen.

The lesson is that direct evidence is often unreliable while circumstantial evidence is often far more reliable and powerful. It may not always be this way, but in general, don’t be so quick to discount circumstantial evidence.