Burden of Proof

When discussing legal issues, you often hear that a certain case or prosecutor did not meet its burden of proof. Furthermore, you may have also heard that different legal issues have different burdens. In general, a burden of proof in a trial is the obligation the prosecutor or plaintiff has to present evidence that proves their claim. The burden is placed on the party bringing forth a complaint (whether civil or criminal). The other party is assumed to be correct until the burden has been appropriately met by the complainant.

Burden of proofThe Preponderance of The Evidence

One of the lower burdens is called probable cause. You often hear this term when it comes to the activity of law enforcement. When it comes to conducting a search in a suspect’s house or even arresting an individual, there must have been probable cause that such activity was warranted. This usually means that there was a fair probability. In many civil cases, the burden of proof for evidence is called the preponderance of the evidence. This balance of evidence requires the claim to be more likely true (than not). The preponderance of the evidence must show there is a greater than 50% chance of the claim being true.

One of the higher burdens is called clear and convincing evidence. This burden can be applied in both criminal and civil cases. The burden has been met if the evidence provided can show that the claim is substantially truer than not, and this burden moves beyond a preponderance of evidence as it requires an even greater standard of the believability of the probability is true. In criminal cases, the highest burden of proof that can be met is beyond a reasonable doubt. In this standard, after all of the evidence has been considered, there cannot be reasonable doubt regarding the claims. If there is such doubt, the burden has not been satisfied. The highest burden does not require there to be any doubt at all, but rather that there cannot be a logical way to establish reasonable doubt based on the evidence provided.


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