All evidence can be classified as either indirect or direct. Indirect evidence, also called circumstantial evidence, proves a fact from which the fact in question may be inferred. Direct evidence, on the other hand, directly proves the fact in question—usually, the guilt or innocence of the defendant.
Eyewitness testimony from a witness who observed the defendant commit the crime in question would be considered direct evidence. Likewise, video footage from a surveillance camera that depicts the defendant committing the crime in question would also be classified as direct evidence. These pieces of evidence directly point to the guilt or innocence of the defendant without requiring any inferences on the part of the jurors.
To more clearly illustrate this point, consider the following: A man walks into a room wearing a raincoat and galoshes. His hair is soaking wet and water is dripping from his raincoat. These facts would indirectly support the fact that it is raining outside, and would therefore be considered indirect, or circumstantial, evidence of that fact.
On the other hand, if the same man walks into a room and says, “I just came in from outside and it is pouring rain,” then the man’s statement would constitute direct evidence that it is raining outside.
In the first case, the man’s wet clothing and hair would provide a basis from which it could be inferred that it is raining outside. In the second case, though, no inference need be made; the man’s testimony that he witnessed the rain directly supports the fact that it is raining.