The evidence module differs from standard evidence handling which typically expects the underlying consensus engine, e.g. Tendermint, to automatically submit evidence when it is discovered by allowing clients and foreign chains to submit more complex evidence directly.

All concrete evidence types must implement the Evidence interface contract. Submitted Evidence is first routed through the evidence module’s Router in which it attempts to find a corresponding registered Handler for that specific Evidence type. Each Evidence type must have a Handler registered with the evidence module’s keeper in order for it to be successfully routed and executed.

Each corresponding handler must also fulfill the Handler interface contract. The Handler for a given Evidence type can perform any arbitrary state transitions such as slashing, jailing, and tombstoning.



Any concrete type of evidence submitted to the module must fulfill the following Evidence contract. Not all concrete types of evidence will fulfill this contract in the same way, and some data might be entirely irrelevant to certain types of evidence. An additional ValidatorEvidence, which extends Evidence, has also been created to define a contract for evidence against malicious validators.

// Evidence defines the contract which concrete evidence types of misbehavior
// must implement.
type Evidence interface {

	Route() string
	Type() string
	String() string
	Hash() tmbytes.HexBytes
	ValidateBasic() error

	// Height at which the infraction occurred
	GetHeight() int64

// ValidatorEvidence extends Evidence interface to define contract
// for evidence against malicious validators
type ValidatorEvidence interface {

	// The consensus address of the malicious validator at time of infraction
	GetConsensusAddress() sdk.ConsAddress

	// The total power of the malicious validator at time of infraction
	GetValidatorPower() int64

	// The total validator set power at time of infraction
	GetTotalPower() int64

Registration and Handling

First, the evidence module must know about all the types of evidence it is expected to handle. Register the Route method in the Evidence contract with a Router as defined below. The Router accepts Evidence and attempts to find the corresponding Handler for the Evidence via the Route method.

type Router interface {
  AddRoute(r string, h Handler) Router
  HasRoute(r string) bool
  GetRoute(path string) Handler
  Sealed() bool

As defined below, the Handler is responsible for executing the entirety of the business logic for handling Evidence. Doing so typically includes validating the evidence, both stateless checks via ValidateBasic and stateful checks via any keepers provided to the Handler. Additionally, the Handler may also perform capabilities, such as slashing and jailing a validator. All Evidence handled by the Handler must be persisted.

// Handler defines an agnostic Evidence handler. The handler is responsible
// for executing all corresponding business logic necessary for verifying the
// evidence as valid. In addition, the Handler may execute any necessary
// slashing and potential jailing.
type Handler func(sdk.Context, Evidence) error


The evidence module only stores valid submitted Evidence in state. The evidence state is also stored and exported in the evidence module’s GenesisState.

// GenesisState defines the evidence module's genesis state.
message GenesisState {
  // evidence defines all the evidence at genesis.
  repeated google.protobuf.Any evidence = 1;



Evidence is submitted through a MsgSubmitEvidence message:

// MsgSubmitEvidence represents a message that supports submitting arbitrary
// Evidence of misbehavior such as equivocation or counterfactual signing.
message MsgSubmitEvidence {
  string              submitter = 1;
  google.protobuf.Any evidence  = 2;

The Evidence of a MsgSubmitEvidence message must have a corresponding Handler registered with the evidence module’s Router to be processed and routed correctly.

Given the Evidence is registered with a corresponding Handler, it is processed as follows:

func SubmitEvidence(ctx Context, evidence Evidence) error {
  if _, ok := GetEvidence(ctx, evidence.Hash()); ok {
    return sdkerrors.Wrap(types.ErrEvidenceExists, evidence.Hash().String())
  if !router.HasRoute(evidence.Route()) {
    return sdkerrors.Wrap(types.ErrNoEvidenceHandlerExists, evidence.Route())

  handler := router.GetRoute(evidence.Route())
  if err := handler(ctx, evidence); err != nil {
    return sdkerrors.Wrap(types.ErrInvalidEvidence, err.Error())

			sdk.NewAttribute(types.AttributeKeyEvidenceHash, evidence.Hash().String()),

  SetEvidence(ctx, evidence)
  return nil

First, there must not already exist valid submitted Evidence of the exact same type. Secondly, the Evidence is routed to the Handler and executed. Finally, if there is no error in handling the Evidence, an event is emitted and it is persisted to state.


The evidence module emits the following handler events:


TypeAttribute KeyAttribute Value



Evidence Handling

Tendermint blocks can include Evidence that indicates if a validator committed malicious behavior. The relevant information is forwarded to the application as ABCI Evidence in abci.RequestBeginBlock so that the validator can be punished accordingly.


Currently, the SDK handles two types of evidence inside the ABCI BeginBlock:

  • DuplicateVoteEvidence,
  • LightClientAttackEvidence.

The evidence module handles these two evidence types the same way. First, the SDK converts the Tendermint concrete evidence type to a SDK Evidence interface using Equivocation as the concrete type.

// Equivocation implements the Evidence interface.
message Equivocation {
  int64                     height            = 1;
  google.protobuf.Timestamp time              = 2;
  int64                     power             = 3;
  string                    consensus_address = 4;

For some Equivocation submitted in block to be valid, it must satisfy:

Evidence.Timestamp >= block.Timestamp - MaxEvidenceAge


  • Evidence.Timestamp is the timestamp in the block at height Evidence.Height
  • block.Timestamp is the current block timestamp.

If valid Equivocation evidence is included in a block, the validator’s stake is reduced (slashed) by SlashFractionDoubleSign as defined by the x/slashing module of what their stake was when the infraction occurred, rather than when the evidence was discovered. We want to “follow the stake”, i.e., the stake that contributed to the infraction should be slashed, even if it has since been redelegated or started unbonding.

In addition, the validator is permanently jailed and tombstoned to make it impossible for that validator to ever re-enter the validator set.

The Equivocation evidence is handled as follows:

func (k Keeper) HandleEquivocationEvidence(ctx sdk.Context, evidence *types.Equivocation) {
	logger := k.Logger(ctx)
	consAddr := evidence.GetConsensusAddress()

	if _, err := k.slashingKeeper.GetPubkey(ctx, consAddr.Bytes()); err != nil {
		// Ignore evidence that cannot be handled.
		// NOTE: We used to panic with:
		// `panic(fmt.Sprintf("Validator consensus-address %v not found", consAddr))`,
		// but this couples the expectations of the app to both Tendermint and
		// the simulator.  Both are expected to provide the full range of
		// allowable but none of the disallowed evidence types.  Instead of
		// getting this coordination right, it is easier to relax the
		// constraints and ignore evidence that cannot be handled.

	// calculate the age of the evidence
	infractionHeight := evidence.GetHeight()
	infractionTime := evidence.GetTime()
	ageDuration := ctx.BlockHeader().Time.Sub(infractionTime)
	ageBlocks := ctx.BlockHeader().Height - infractionHeight

	// Reject evidence if the double-sign is too old. Evidence is considered stale
	// if the difference in time and number of blocks is greater than the allowed
	// parameters defined.
	cp := ctx.ConsensusParams()
	if cp != nil && cp.Evidence != nil {
		if ageDuration > cp.Evidence.MaxAgeDuration && ageBlocks > cp.Evidence.MaxAgeNumBlocks {
				"ignored equivocation; evidence too old",
				"validator", consAddr,
				"infraction_height", infractionHeight,
				"max_age_num_blocks", cp.Evidence.MaxAgeNumBlocks,
				"infraction_time", infractionTime,
				"max_age_duration", cp.Evidence.MaxAgeDuration,

	validator := k.stakingKeeper.ValidatorByConsAddr(ctx, consAddr)
	if validator == nil || validator.IsUnbonded() {
		// Defensive: Simulation doesn't take unbonding periods into account, and
		// Tendermint might break this assumption at some point.

	if ok := k.slashingKeeper.HasValidatorSigningInfo(ctx, consAddr); !ok {
		panic(fmt.Sprintf("expected signing info for validator %s but not found", consAddr))

	// ignore if the validator is already tombstoned
	if k.slashingKeeper.IsTombstoned(ctx, consAddr) {
			"ignored equivocation; validator already tombstoned",
			"validator", consAddr,
			"infraction_height", infractionHeight,
			"infraction_time", infractionTime,

		"confirmed equivocation",
		"validator", consAddr,
		"infraction_height", infractionHeight,
		"infraction_time", infractionTime,

	// We need to retrieve the stake distribution which signed the block, so we
	// subtract ValidatorUpdateDelay from the evidence height.
	// Note, that this *can* result in a negative "distributionHeight", up to
	// -ValidatorUpdateDelay, i.e. at the end of the
	// pre-genesis block (none) = at the beginning of the genesis block.
	// That's fine since this is just used to filter unbonding delegations & redelegations.
	distributionHeight := infractionHeight - sdk.ValidatorUpdateDelay

	// Slash validator. The `power` is the int64 power of the validator as provided
	// to/by Tendermint. This value is validator.Tokens as sent to Tendermint via
	// ABCI, and now received as evidence. The fraction is passed in to separately
	// to slash unbonding and rebonding delegations.
		evidence.GetValidatorPower(), distributionHeight,

	// Jail the validator if not already jailed. This will begin unbonding the
	// validator if not already unbonding (tombstoned).
	if !validator.IsJailed() {
		k.slashingKeeper.Jail(ctx, consAddr)

	k.slashingKeeper.JailUntil(ctx, consAddr, types.DoubleSignJailEndTime)
	k.slashingKeeper.Tombstone(ctx, consAddr)

Note, the slashing, jailing, and tombstoning calls are delegated through the x/slashing module that emits informative events and finally delegates calls to the x/staking module. See documentation on slashing and jailing in transitions.