Evidence comes in many different forms. There are

Evidence comes in many
different forms. There are eyewitnesses, documents, physical evidence, DNA,
prior statements, fingerprints and so on. No matter the form of evidence, there
is one method of classifying evidence which divides all evidence into two
types: direct evidence and circumstantial evidence. A conviction can be based
on either direct or circumstantial evidence or a combination of both. To add on,
either the evidence establishes that a fact exist, which would be considered direct
evidence or the jury needs to draw up an inference based on the evidence to
conclude that a fact exist would be circumstantial evidence.

            Direct evidence is based on personal knowledge or
observations of the person testifying. No inference or presumption is needed.
If the testimony is believed by the jury the fact it relates to is conclusively
established. Important to note that direct evidence will be admissible if it
was legally obtained and is not privilege. Direct evidence of a fact at issue
is always relevant. Such as in a criminal case, direct evidence usually
involves eyewitness testimony regarding the severity of the crime. One example
would be if a witness personally saw the defendant shoot the victim that would
be considered direct evidence. The shooting is within the witnesses actual
experiences. Whether the judge or jury believes the witness is a separate issue
regarding credibility, but that does the change the nature of the testimony as
direct evidence. When direct evidence is introduces the jury has to decide the
credibility of the witness. This usually involves the demeanor of the witness
and the likelihood that what the witness said could have happen.  

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            On the other hand there is circumstantial evidence; it
indirectly proves a fact or observation. It’s based on inferences that the jury
must draw rather than personal knowledge or observation of the witness. Circumstantial
evidence is evidence that strongly suggests something but doesn’t necessarily
prove it. It simply helps to draw inferences about a fact or events that took
place. Some may consider the type of evidence weak on its own. Though actually
circumstantial evidence is an important tool used by prosecutors to convict
people. It can be derived from variety of sources and can be used to lay the
foundation of belief as well as backed up by witness testimony. When something
is unknown a collection of facts can be put together to make an inference on
the conclusion of an event and determine the unknown. An example of
circumstantial evidence could be if a witness saw a man enter a house with a
knife in his hand and the witness heard a scream and saw the man ran out the
house no longer holding the knife. Then a woman is later discovered dead with a
knife stabbed in her back. Though no one saw the man stab the woman, what the
witness observed can be put together and create a conclusion that the man did
stab the woman. Circumstantial evidence is admitted at the discretion of the
judge. The judge will consider whether the evidence is relevant and it fairs
other factors like the amount of time it will take to introduce the evidence,
confusion that may result from the evidence and the possibility that the
evidence may be unduly prejudicial. It can be said that circumstantial is
evidence is harder to evaluate. The jury has the task to decide the credibility
if the witnesses what inference should be drawn from the evidence that is
presented and the weight to be given to each piece of evidence. The term
Circumstantial evidence of ability to commit the crime is also connected.  Some crimes are committed which would require
a certain person to have a special skill or ability that an average person
would not have to commit such a crime. The more unique and special the skill
the stronger an inference can be used against a defendant if the defendant has
a similar skill or ability. It also can use in favor to the defense, in that
his defendant doesn’t have the specific skill or ability that one would need to
commit that certain crime.

             Direct and
Circumstantial evidence are both important to the criminal justice system. They
have their differences and similarities but neither is favored over the other.
Both are used to convict someone or prove innocence. Though with direct
evidence it can be prove a material fact by itself it does not need inference,
circumstantial evidence cannot prove a material fact by itself. Meaning that
circumstantial evidence can’t prove anything by itself, circumstantial evidence
needs to use other facts gathered to prove a certain material at question.
Unlike direct evidence circumstantial evidence doesn’t stand alone logical
reasoning is needed. Inferences from circumstantial evidence may be drawn on
the basis of reason, experiences, and common sense.

            In criminal cases some have been appealed due to an
evidentiary issue, one those cases is Mapp v. Ohio. The case was from Cleveland
Ohio when police officers forced their way into Dolle Mapp home without consent
or search warrant. Police officers believed that Mapp was hiding a suspected bomber;
though no suspect was found in the home police did discover a trunk of obscene
pictures in Mapp basement. She was arrested for the possession of those picture
and convicted in an Ohio court, Mapp argue that her constitutional rights were
violated by the search. She took her appeal to the United States Supreme Court.
The court favored with Mapp stating that evidence seized unlawfully without a
search warrant could not be used in criminal prosecution in state courts.
Designed to put off police misconduct, the exclusionary rule allows courts to
exclude any evidence that was obtained unlawfully or it violated constitutional
rights while obtaining the evidence. By filing a motion to suppress before
trial, it can prevent prosecution from using legally obtained evidence. To add
on the exclusionary rule applies to evidence that’s a direct produce of a constitutional
violation. Then come in, Fruit of the Poisonous Tree this doctrine is like an
offspring to the exclusionary rule. Fruit of the Poisonous tree states that any
evidence that was gained from an illegal search would be excluded as well.  For instances, if a police officer stops a
person for a minor traffic violation and then searches the car this would be a
violation because the officer had indication that car would contain evidence of
a crime this would be an unreasonable search under the fourth amendment. During
the illegal search the officer finds marijuana in the vehicle and the driver is
charged for possession of a controlled substance. In trial the marijuana
evidence is excluded under the exclusionary rule because it obtained in an
illegal search so the charges are dropped. Before the charges are dropped the
officer had asked a judge for a search warrant to search the driver’s home. The
judge not knowing that the marijuana was obtained illegally approves the warrant;
during the search of the house the officer finds stolen property of at the
home. The stolen property would also be excluded in trial because the search of
the house was based on evidence first gather from an illegal search. To
continue on with exclusionary rule, there are exceptions to the exclusionary
rule. To start off there is the good faith exception which states that officer
must be acting under a fair belief that what they are doing is constitutional.
The facts must be such that a reasonable officer could have made an honest mistake
but if the officer had an ulterior motive this exception would not apply.
Examples of Good Faith Exception would be a mistake done by court employee or
judge. Secondly is the inevitable discovering exception this is based on the
idea that the police would have the evidence even if they had not used
unconstitutional evidence. The prosecution would have the burden of convincing
the judge that the evidence would inevitably have been found by legal methods.
Next is the Independent Source Exception to admit evidence under this exception
the prosecution must convince the judge that the police discovered the evidence
without relying on constitutional procedures. An example of the Independent
Source Exception could be the case of State v. O’Brernski 1967 when the
testimony of a teenage girl who was found in a house during in an illegal
search regarding the defendant’s involvement of sexual activity with her can be
regarded as admissible in court. Then there is the Public Safety Exception its
based on the idea that the police are justified if acting to protect the public
from imminent danger even if it is necessary to violate someone’s constitutional
rights to do so. Finally there is the Procedural Exception cases are not automatically
reverses because the judge admitted unconstitutionally obtained evidence that
should have been excluded. The Harmless Error Rule applies to most
constitutional violation. The case will be reversed only if the appellate judges
are convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the erroneously admitted evidence influenced
the jury decision on the case.

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