Former NBA Star Shawn Kemp charged in drive by shooting – Circumstantial vs. Direct Evidence – What is the difference? Does the prosecution need an eyewitness?
Recently, former NBA star, Shawn Kemp, was arrested and charged following an alleged drive by shooting in the Pierce County, Washington State. While this case did not occur in Pennsylvania or New Jersey where our criminal defense law firm maintains its practice, it provides a great example of direct vs. circumstantial evidence.
What happened in this case?
It is alleged that Kemp was in the vehicle from which shots were fired following an altercation in Tacoma, WA. Kemp was allegedly identified, and the video shows a man in a red vest jacket raising his arm before gun shots are heard on the video.
What is the difference between direct and circumstantial evidence?
Direct evidence is strong evidence which the prosecution or defense can introduce at a trial or during a pre-trial motion. Direct evidence is an eyewitness identification or some other identification in the form of a video or audio. Circumstantial evidence is not a direct observation but that evidence which indicates to the finder of fact (Judge or jury) can infer what occurred.
For example, direct evidence is seeing a person walk across a muddy field and making footprints. Circumstantial evidence, however, would be just seeing the muddy footprints and a person standing next to the field. While the second case does not directly show the person walking across the field, the finder of fact could infer that the person with the muddy shoes walked across the field. This is a very simple and common example frequently used in Court to explain the difference between direct and circumstantial evidence for a jury.
What is Shawn Kemp charged with in Washington State?
Kemp does have prior criminal history and was arrested twice in the early 2000s for the illegal possession of marijuana. Ironically, Kemp now owns at least one cannabis shop in Seattle. Drive by shooting in Washington State is a Class B felony but it is likely that Kemp could be charged with other crimes as well. It is likely that Kemp will be charged with the following:
- Aggravated assault;
- Attempted murder;
- Illegal possession of a gun or firearm;
- Terroristic threats.
Please keep in mind that a judge or jury could convict Kemp of criminal charges based on circumstantial evidence alone. While prosecution would obviously help the prosecution’s case, it is not necessary. If you are charged with a crime in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, your criminal defense lawyer must explain these concepts to you!
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