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CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE Definition & Legal Meaning

Definition & Citations:

Evidence directed to the attending circumstances ; evidence which inferentially proves the principal fact by establishing a condition of surrounding and limiting circumstances, whose existence is a premise from which the existence of the principal fact may be concluded by necessary laws of reasoning. State v. Avery, 113 Mo. 475, 21 S. W. 193; Howard v. State, 34 Ark. 433; State v. Evans, 1 Marvel (Del.) 477, 41 Atl. 136; Comm. v. Webster, 5 Cush. (Mass.) 319, 52 Am. Dec. 711; Gardner v. Preston, 2 Day (Conn.) 205. 2 Am. Dec. 91; State v. Miller, 9 Houst. (Del.) 564, 32 Atl. 137. When the existence of any fact is attested by witnesses, as having come under the cognizance of their senses, or is stated in documents, the genuineness and veracity of which there seems no reason to question, the evidence of that fact is said to be direct or positive. When, on the contrary, the existence of the principal fact is only inferred from one or more circumstances which have been established directly, the evidence is said to be circumstantial. And when the existence of the principal fact does not follow from the evidentiary facts as a necessary consequence of the law of nature, but is deduced from them by a process of probable reasoning, the evidence and proof are said to be presumptive. Best, Pres. 240; Id. 12. All presumptive evidence is circumstantial, because necessarily derived from or made up of circumstances, but all circumstantial evidence is not presumptive, that is, it does not operate in the way of presumption, being sometimes of a higher grade, and lending to necessary conclusions, instead of probable ones. Burrill. CIRCUMSTANTIBUS, TALES DE. See TALES.


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