From a legal standpoint, the burden of proof is the guiding point of discussion within the courtroom. It forces all party members to provide standing and supporting evidence that proves their claim. Evidence normally includes witness testimonies, documents such as photos, written work, printouts of text messages, and objects.
The burden of proof is normally assigned to the plaintiff – the party making a claim – but during a trial, the judge determines who has the burden of proof to varying parties. All claims made by each party can be questioned or countered by the opposing party to determine the truth of the claims. At the end of the trial, the judge and the jury decide whether that burden has been supported by all parties and come to a verdict.
Primary Standards of Proof in Law
There are three standards of the burden of proof that follow what the law world calls a standard of proof. A standard of proof is the level of evidence that is required to satisfy the burden of proof. The most common standards of proof are:
- Beyond a reasonable doubt where the burdened party “must convince the jury that there is no other reasonable explanation that can come from the evidence presented at trial.” The standard of this type is that there is no question that the defendant is 100% guilty.
- Clear and convincing evidence is less concrete than beyond a reasonable doubt. The evidence must prove that the evidence is highly likely to be true than not true.
- Preponderance of the evidence is typically used in a civil trial and the burden of proof “is met when the party with the burden convinced the factfinder that there is a greater than 50% chance that the claim is true”
There are other standards of proof that can be used on a case-by-case basis including reasonable belief, reasonable suspicion, some evidence, substantial evidence, reasonable indications, and probable cause. These create different levels of certainty where beyond a reasonable doubt is greater than 99% and substantial evidence could be in the 60% range of certainty. It may point in a certain direction, but it is not proven.
Types of Burden of Proof
The two types of burden of proof in law are called the burden of production and the burden of persuasion.
- The burden of production is the “party’s obligation to come forward with sufficient evidence to support a particular proposition of fact.” The burden of production is not about convincing the judge and the jury that the proposition is true, but that there is existing evidence that the proposition is true.
- The burden of persuasion is the “obligation of a party to introduce evidence that persuades the factfinder, to requisite degree of belief, that a particular proposition of fact is true.” The burden of production’s focus is to view the facts and evidence and how it supports or debunks a proposition of fact.
The party that has the burden of proof varies from each case. Every state has different rules and requirements in court. Contact us to discuss the importance of the burden of proof and how we can help you in meeting the requirements by the court.
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