Direct Evidence and Circumstantial Evidence

Please Respond:

  1. Stacy Craig


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Direct evidence and circumstantial evidence are both important to a fraud case. A type of direct evidence is the direct testimony in court. This is something that the jury hears directly and can come to their conclusions based upon this direct evidence, usually in fraud cases the fraudster’s confession, an eye witness or someone else that was involved in the fraud. Circumstantial evidence according to our textbook proves or disproves the case in most fraud cases. Circumstantial evidence is usually the type of evidence that a fraud examiner or forensic accountant can bring to the case. Most of this evidence requires interpretation to link to the case. The most persuasive evidence in a court of law is direct evidence. The jury can use this direct evidence to come to their own conclusions without depending on the knowledge they have to understand the link with the circumstantial evidence. The direct evidence will be less likely to confuse a jury since they are not replying to someone else’s interpretation.


Kranacher, J. M., & Riley, R. (2019). Forensic accounting and fraud examination (2nd ed.). Wiley & Sons.


  1. Andrew Smith

The difference between direct and circumstantial evidence can often be a confusing line to determine. I majored in Criminal Justice for my undergrad degree because I was an Infantry Rifleman and aspired to work in law enforcement after leaving the service. The more I studied it though, the more I realized it wasn’t how I wanted to spend my career, so I stayed in the Marines after graduation and applied for a commission instead. After being accepted, they assigned me to work as a Financial Manager which launched my interest in both accounting and personal finance.

During my undergraduate studies I remember some classes on evidence and that they taught how direct evidence includes identifying a specific person committing an alleged act at a specific time. For example, an eyewitness testimony where someone sees someone that they know, or they can positively identify, commit a crime. This testimony puts a specific person (one they know or can identify) in a specific place (where the crime occurred) at a specific time (when the crime occurred). In this example, video footage that clearly shows the identity of the person, and a timestamp would also qualify as direct evidence in lieu of personal testimony.

However, if the eyewitness or video footage cannot specifically identify who the perpetrator is, and can only show that someone committed the crime, it would only qualify as circumstantial evidence. Any fingerprints left at the scene of the crime or on any weapons, tools, etc. will positively show who was there but they are also only circumstantial evidence because there is no way to positively identify when those the fingerprint were left.

Considering these differences, direct evidence is more persuasive in a court of law because it does not ask the jury to develop opinions based on the circumstance. Although direct evidence is better, it is still possible to be convicted based on only circumstantial evidence if there is enough of it together to meet the reasonable doubt standard for a conviction. This is important for a fraud case because it is highly unlikely that direct evidence of the crime will exist because there are rarely eyewitnesses of the crime, and a perpetrator isn’t usually going to come right out and confess (Kranacher & Riley, 2019, pg. 57).


Kranacher, M., & Riley, R. (2019). Forensic Accounting and Fraud Examination (2nd ed.). Wiley.





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