What is a Burden of Proof?
A burden of proof is the standard that the person who sues has to meet in order for a contention of fact to be considered legally true.
Who has the Burden of Proof in a Civil Case?
The party that is suing has the burden of proof on liability. In a civil case, the plaintiff has the burden of proving each of the elements of her cause of action. The defendant has no burden of proof unless the defendant alleges an affirmative defense or files a countersuit. If the defendant alleges an affirmative defense or files a countersuit, it must put on evidence of liability for the countersuit or evidence of the affirmative defense.
Who has the Burden of Proof in a Criminal Case?
The prosecution has the burden of proving each of the elements of a criminal offense in a criminal case.
What is the Burden of Proof in a Civil Lawsuit?
There are two different burdens of proof in civil cases: preponderance of the evidence, and clear and convincing evidence.
What is Preponderance of the Evidence?
Preponderance of the evidence is the most common burden of proof in civil cases. In order to meet this burden of proof the evidence must show that the plaintiff’s claim are more likely to be true than not true. In other words, the plaintiff must prove that there is a greater than 50% chance that the defendant’s conduct caused the plaintiff’s harm. In contrast, the defendant must prove his or her affirmative defense by a preponderance of the evidence.
What is Clear and Convincing Evidence?
In order to meet the clear and convincing evidence standard the plaintiff must prove that her cause of action is substantially more likely true than not true. This standard is a higher standard than the preponderance of the evidence standard. The plaintiff must leave the trier of fact with a firm conviction that the defendant’s actions caused the plaintiff’s harm. The clear and convincing standard is often used when the plaintiff asserts that the defendant committed fraud or gross negligence.
Is the Burden of Proof Different in a Criminal Case?
In a criminal case, the standard that the prosecution must meet is beyond a reasonable doubt. This means that there can be no other reasonable explanation. Beyond a reasonable doubt is a higher standard than preponderance of the evidence. There is a higher standard in criminal cases because a verdict of guilty can deprive a defendant of his liberty. Sending a defendant to prison is much more severe than the result of civil trials.
What happens if the Burden of Proof is not met?
If the plaintiff fails to meet her burden of proof, the plaintiff will recover nothing, regardless of what the defendant did at trial.
Why does the Burden of Proof Matter?
If a plaintiff fails to meet her burden of proof they will not be able to recover anything from the defendant. Everyone interprets evidence differently. In other words, the weight of each piece of evidence is subjective. Hiring an experienced attorney who knows how to present evidence properly is important.