corroborating evidence | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Criminal Law

In criminal law, corroborating evidence is additional evidence that supports or confirms the testimony or evidence presented by another witness or source.

At the core of any criminal law case lies evidence. Evidence serves as the fundamental building block that forms the basis of legal proceedings, and it is through the examination of this evidence that the guilt or innocence of a person is determined. Corroborating evidence is a specific type of evidence that plays a crucial role in shaping these decisions.

In simple terms, corroborating evidence is any additional evidence that confirms or supports the testimony or evidence presented by another witness or source. This evidence is used to reinforce the credibility of a witness’s testimony or the reliability of a piece of primary evidence. By adding weight to the original evidence or testimony, corroborating evidence strengthens the case against the accused.

In a courtroom setting, if a single piece of evidence or a witness’s testimony is unsupported, it might not be enough to convince the jury of the defendant’s guilt. This is where corroborating evidence comes in. It not only strengthens the original evidence or testimony but also provides an additional layer of reliability and trustworthiness to it.

Types of Corroborating Evidence

Corroborating evidence can come in various forms. It may include physical evidence, eyewitness testimonies, or other forms of documentary or electronic evidence.

  1. Physical Evidence: This includes tangible items that can be physically presented in court. Examples could be a weapon used in a crime, DNA evidence, or fingerprints found at a crime scene. These pieces of evidence can provide strong corroboration to a witness’s testimony.
  2. Eyewitness Testimony: Another eyewitness’s account can serve as corroborating evidence. For instance, if two or more people testify independently about the same incident with similar details, their testimonies can corroborate each other, making their accounts more credible.
  3. Documentary or Electronic Evidence: Documents, emails, text messages, or video footage can also act as corroborating evidence. If someone testifies about a conversation they had with the defendant and then presents an email or text message exchange that matches their testimony, that document becomes corroborating evidence.

The Importance of Corroborating Evidence

While such evidence is not always necessary to establish the guilt of a defendant, it plays a vital role in the legal process. It helps to overcome doubts or challenges to the credibility of a witness or the reliability of a piece of evidence.

Imagine a scenario where a witness testifies but is not deemed reliable due to past dishonesty. In such a case, the witness’s testimony alone may not be sufficient to convince the jury. However, if this testimony is supported by corroborating evidence—say, video footage showing the crime as the witness described it—the jury may find the testimony more credible.

Furthermore, such evidence is often used to verify the truthfulness of a witness’s account. Witnesses, being human, can make mistakes or have imperfect memories. Corroborating evidence can provide an additional source of information independent of the witness’s memory or perception, which can help establish the truth.


In conclusion, corroborating evidence is an essential aspect of the criminal justice system. By providing additional support for a witness’s testimony or a piece of evidence, it bolsters the credibility and reliability of the case at hand. Though not always necessary, its presence can significantly impact the outcome of a trial, making it a powerful tool in the pursuit of justice.

[ Glossary ]

Last Modified: 05/15/2023

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