Facts vs. Evidence

Understanding the difference between facts and evidence

Facts and evidence are two words that are often used incorrectly. Even though they are often used interchangeably, they have entirely different meanings. A fact is something that can be proven but evidence is something that someone tells you or objects that can point to the facts. Evidence can be accepted only as a belief that something is a fact and in all cases this is not true.

There are two types of evidence – factual evidence and documented evidence.  In a trial, the court always relies on the documented evidence because facts are needed to prove that it is not true. However, it is very easy to damage or destroy evidence. Therefore there is not a lot of strength in evidence and it is difficult to authenticate it. In contrast to evidence, a fact can be proven by any means and this is one of the main differences between the two words.

A fact cannot be destroyed or damaged. This is true of scientific facts that have been proven by multiple experiments. No matter how much you change the variables, the conclusion is fact. Facts are based on evidence, but evidence does not necessarily have to be true. It is also considered to be a reality about which a large number of people agree. Facts cannot be disputed.

Information that proves to be helpful in forming a conclusion is termed evidence, but it has to be either true or false. Evidence can be disputed, which is why it is presented in court. The lawyers for both sides present arguments and witnesses to prove or disprove the evidence that has been collected for the case.

It is the evidence that starts an investigation and fact develops from the conclusion of the investigation.

 

  • Guy Velnick

    I beg to differ. Facts are only evidence when given a context. A pure fact is not evidence. A fact is given value as evidence ONLY by providing it with a context. Not a legal definition, because the context is often assumed to be known. And therein lies the hooker… Judges provide a narrative and also choose what evidence will be allowed or disallowed to be heard (and even though this can be argued, the judge has the final say which can be appealed later). They can rule that a certain context of any fact not be heard by the jury, even if it be critical to revealing the “whole truth and …”. In so doing they can predetermine any result they are “bent of mind” on.