(4) Direct and Circumstantial Evidence

(4) Direct and Circumstantial Evidence - Criminal Evidence...

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Criminal Evidence and Procedure Direct and Circumstantial Evidence (4) Direct and Circumstantial Evidence 4.1 Basic Definitions Direct evidence – is based on personal observation no inference or presumption is needed it is admissible if legally obtained and not privileged Circumstantial evidence – requires an inference or presumption admitted at the discretion of the judge judge balances relevance against factors such as the amount of time it will take to introduce, the possibility it will confuse the jurors and the prejudice it may cause 4.2 Weight of Evidence Jury (as the trier of fact) decides the weight of each piece of evidence If there is a conflict between the facts, the jury decides which evidence to believe Jury decides what inference to draw from the evidence Jury decides the credibility of the witnesses Demeanor of the witness Likelihood that what the witness said could have happened Was the witness antagonistic or evasive Jury may also consider facts revealed during impeachment (biases etc) Circumstantial evidence is more difficult to evaluate Decide the credibility of the witness, what inference should be drawn (may be more than one), weight to be given to each piece of evidence 4.3 Circumstantial Evidence of Ability to Commit the Crime Some crimes are committed in a way that indicates the suspect had special skills or abilities The more unique the skill, the stronger the inference if the defendant does not have the skill, can infer they did NOT commit the crime 4-3a Skills and Technical Knowledge Most street crimes require few special skills or technical knowledge White collar crime, safe cracking, computer crimes – require skills etching and printing (counterfeit), locksmithing (burglary), bookkeeping (embezzlement) 4-3 b Means to Accomplish the Crime The fact that the defendant had the means to accomplish the crime can also be used as circumstantial evidence Owned a gun that is the same caliber as the bullet taken from the body of the victim Defendant had a stolen pass key for the area where the theft occurred Meridith Spencer Page 1 of 6
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Criminal Evidence and Procedure Direct and Circumstantial Evidence (4) 4-3 c Physical Capacity If fact shows only a very tall person could have committed the crime Crimes required someone running very fast, yet suspect is disabled 4-3 d Mental Capacity May need to establish that the defendant has minimal mental capacity and therefore something that was obvious to everyone else, was not obvious to the defendant Can infer that sophisticated crimes could only be committed by someone with superior intelligence 4.4 Circumstantial Evidence of Intent This is frequently needed to establish intense (especially in specific intent crimes)
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This note was uploaded on 06/25/2008 for the course CRJ 152 taught by Professor Spencer during the Spring '05 term at Middlesex CC.

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(4) Direct and Circumstantial Evidence - Criminal Evidence...

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