What does Circumstantial Evidence mean?
Circumstantial evidence does not point directly to a fact and is not based on actual personal knowledge or observation of the facts. Circumstantial evidence presented in court requires the judge and jury to make inferences.
Evidence such as fingerprints may seem like direct evidence, but in some cases they are circumstantial. For instance, if your fingerprints are on a stolen car the jury will have to infer that they were put there at the time of the crime, not prior to the crime. Circumstantial evidence, such as fingerprints left at the scene, are most effectively used when there is other evidence such as corroborating evidence and other factual information to support the circumstantial evidence.
For example, a criminal trial may include information from a witness who was at the scene of the crime and saw you jump into the car and steal it. This eye witness testimony, in addition to the circumstantial evidence of your fingerprints, builds a case that you did, in fact, steal the car.