Corpus delicti is the legal term, which refers to the body of the offense or the essence of the crime. Most literally, corpus delicti is the term used to refer to the actual victimâ€™s body in a murder case.
Corpus delicti is also a term that can be used to mean any material evidence of a crime or objective proof in a criminal case. The laws of corpus delicti relate to what must be proven in a case to elicit an acquittal or conviction.
The following are a few examples of how corpus delicti principles apply to a criminal case:
- When a person is charged with larceny, the corpus delicti is proof that property was stolen.
- When a person is charged with the crime of arson, the corpus delicti is the burned property or evidence that arson was attempted.
- In a murder case, the corpus delicti is the dead body of the victim.
The person who they allegedly killed made an appearance after the defendant was killed. In order to avoid falsely convicting an innocent person, proof of corpus delicti is generally required in order to convict a defendant.
The Supreme Court in Badshah & Ors. v. State of U.P., Cr. Appeal No. 554 of 2005 categorically held that in the event of murder of an abducted person, either by direct or presumptive evidence, an inference of murder can safely be drawn in respect whereof it would not be necessary to prove the corpus delicti.
[Badshah & Ors. v. State of U.P., Cr. Appeal No. 554 of 2005 decided on February 12, 2008]