We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is Indirect Evidence?

Leigia Rosales
By
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
MyLawQuestions is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At MyLawQuestions, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

In either a civil lawsuit or criminal prosecution, evidence is needed to meet the burden required to win the case. Evidence comes in many forms, including testamentary, documentary, physical, and demonstrative. Some evidence is considered direct, or primary, evidence, while other evidence is circumstantial, or indirect, evidence. Evidence that only creates an inference or that does not directly lead to a conclusion of fact is known as indirect evidence.

The required burden of proof will vary by jurisdiction. In the United States, the burden of proof in a criminal trial is "beyond a reasonable doubt," while the burden of proof in a civil lawsuit is "beyond a preponderance of the evidence" in almost all cases. A precise definition for both continues to elude even legal scholars; however, it is clear that the burden of proof in a criminal trial is significantly higher than that of a civil lawsuit. As a result, indirect evidence is more likely to be sufficient to support a determination of liability in a civil lawsuit than a verdict of guilty in a criminal trial.

In a criminal prosecution, indirect evidence may be considered more valuable when the totality of the indirect evidence leads to a conclusion. If, for example, a witness in a robbery trial can testify that she personally saw the defendant pull out a gun and rob a store owner, that would be direct evidence. If, on the other hand, she can only testify to seeing the defendant enter the store and leave the store at the time the store was allegedly robbed, that is only indirect evidence and unlikely to be enough to convict the defendant of the crime. If she can also testify that she heard screams from inside the store, saw the defendant leave with a gun in his hand, and entered the store herself shortly thereafter and was told it had just been robbed, then that is a collection of indirect evidence that, in totality, may be more likely to lead a jury to believe that the defendant committed the crime.

In a civil lawsuit, indirect evidence is used more frequently and often more successfully due to the lower burden of proof. In a car accident case, for example, the speed at which the driver of a car was driving may be determined by expert testimony based on a forensic analysis of skid marks, road conditions, and impact tests. Unless someone was at the scene with a radar gun pointed at the car to provide direct evidence of the speed, indirect evidence will be used and likely accepted.

MyLawQuestions is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Leigia Rosales
By Leigia Rosales , Former Writer
Leigia Rosales is a former attorney turned freelance writer. With a law degree and a background in legal practice, she crafts compelling content that informs and engages readers. Her ability to understand complex topics and communicate them effectively makes her a valuable asset to any content creation team.

Discussion Comments

By bluedolphin — On Apr 15, 2014

Indirect evidence is interesting. Sometimes, it's almost as conclusive as direct evidence and sometimes it's not conclusive at all. It really depends on the specific circumstances.

I really like the example in the article about a woman who saw someone leave a store with a gun and was told that it was just robbed. Even though she never saw the person actually committing the crime, the things that she did see when combined, are almost as conclusive as indirect evidence.

I think we can infer from all this that it's extremely important for witnesses to testify with every detail they remember and as accurately as possible. It's usually the details that makes one piece of indirect evidence more reliable than another.

By stoneMason — On Apr 14, 2014

@odnasmrs-- Beyond preponderance of the evidence means that most of the evidence in a case points towards something and that a claim of one party is probably true. If this is true in a case, then of course, that case can be won with only indirect evidence.

In cases where there is no direct evidence such as an eye witness, a recording or a document, courts must rely on indirect evidence to make a decision. If most of the indirect evidence points towards something, then the court will consider that to be most probably true and vote in its favor. It may not sound very reasonable, but this is the most logical way to make ruling in a case when the evidence cannot prove a fact by itself.

By donasmrs — On Apr 14, 2014

What is "beyond a preponderance of the evidence?" Can civil cases be won with only indirect evidence?

Leigia Rosales

Leigia Rosales

Former Writer

Leigia Rosales is a former attorney turned freelance writer. With a law degree and a background in legal practice, she...
Learn more
MyLawQuestions, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

MyLawQuestions, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.