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CALCRIM 223. Direct and Circumstantial Evidence: Defined

223. Direct and Circumstantial Evidence: Defined

Facts may be proved by direct or circumstantial evidence or by a
combination of both. Direct evidence can prove a fact by itself. For
example, if a witness testifies he saw it raining outside before he
came into the courthouse, that testimony is direct evidence that it
was raining. Circumstantial evidence also may be called indirect
evidence. Circumstantial evidence does not directly prove the fact
to be decided, but is evidence of another fact or group of facts
from which you may logically and reasonably conclude the truth
of the fact in question. For example, if a witness testifies that he
saw someone come inside wearing a raincoat covered with drops of
water, that testimony is circumstantial evidence because it may
support a conclusion that it was raining outside.

Both direct and circumstantial evidence are acceptable types of
evidence to prove or disprove the elements of a charge, including
intent and mental state and acts necessary to a conviction, and
neither is necessarily more reliable than the other. Neither is
entitled to any greater weight than the other. You must decide
whether a fact in issue has been proved based on all the evidence.

New January 2006; Revised June 2007


Instructional Duty
The court has a sua sponte duty to give this instruction explaining direct and
circumstantial evidence if the prosecution substantially relies on
circumstantial evidence to establish any element of the case. (People v.
Yrigoyen (1955) 45 Cal.2d 46, 49 [286 P.2d 1] [duty exists where
circumstantial evidence relied on to prove any element, including intent]; see
People v. Bloyd (1987) 43 Cal.3d 333, 351–352 [233 Cal.Rptr. 368, 729 P.2d
802]; People v. Heishman (1988) 45 Cal.3d 147, 167 [246 Cal.Rptr. 673, 753
P.2d 629].) The court must give this instruction if the court will be giving
either CALCRIM No. 224, Circumstantial Evidence: Suffıciency of Evidence
or CALCRIM No. 225, Circumstantial Evidence: Intent or Mental State.
The court, at its discretion, may give this instruction in any case in which
circumstantial evidence has been presented.


• Direct Evidence Defined. Evid. Code, § 410.
• Logical and Reasonable Inference Defined. Evid. Code, § 600(b).
• Difference Between Direct and Circumstantial Evidence. People v. Lim
Foon (1915) 29 Cal.App. 270, 274 [155 P. 477] [no sua sponte duty to
instruct, but court approves definition]; People v. Goldstein (1956) 139
Cal.App.2d 146, 152–153 [293 P.2d 495] [sua sponte duty to instruct].
• This Instruction Upheld. People v. Ibarra (2007) 156 Cal.App.4th
1174, 1186 [67 Cal.Rptr.3d 871].
Secondary Sources
1 Witkin & Epstein, California Criminal Law (3d ed. 2000) Elements, § 3.
5 Witkin & Epstein, California Criminal Law (3d ed. 2000) Criminal Trial,
§ 652.
1 Witkin, California Evidence (4th ed. 2000) Circumstantial Evidence, § 117.
4 Millman, Sevilla & Tarlow, California Criminal Defense Practice, Ch. 83,
Evidence, § 83.01[2], Ch. 85, Submission to Jury and Verdict, § 85.03[2][a]
(Matthew Bender).

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