In legal terms, Burden of Proof is the obligation of a party to produce evidence in favor or against disputed facts in a case. The term originates from the Latin phrase “onus probandi.” It is incumbent upon the party that is responsible for the burden of proof to defend or prove an allegation during a trial.
For instance, if a person files a case of product liability, he will have the burden of proof as well. This means that it will be his responsibility to produce the necessary evidence required to prove his point.
The Responsibility of Burden of Proof
The question rises, who is supposed to bear the burden of proof? The root of its answer lies in a Latin maxim that states that the person who files a case and lays allegations or defends himself or his company (whatever the case maybe) is legally bound to produce the evidence as well. Thus, in a criminal case it is usually the prosecutor and in a civil case, it is the plaintiff. Once the prosecutor or the plaintiff has provided evidence in his favor, the defendant is then allowed to either plead guilty or provide with counter-defense.
Components of Burden of Proof
The idea behind burden of proof hinges on two components that combined make the effort worthwhile. There is the burden of production that comprises of the first part. It deals with finding sufficient and plausible evidence that can be presented in the court. The second part or component is the burden of persuasion. This deals with convincing the court with the help of the evidence procured to support your claim. Thus, in order to legally bear the burden of proof, substantial evidence has to be produced that is used in court to convince the judge of their case.
Tiers of Burden of Proof
The party required to bear the burden of proof may present with a number of evidences that may not all hold the same level of importance or consideration for the judge. In order to establish a fair system, evidences have been legally categorized to demarcate the level of their efficacy and importance in determining the final decision. However, each case is defined with a different standard because each type of case is unique. For instance, in case of a murder charge, all aspects have to be furnished with definite proofs to prove the guilt of the accused in order to pronounce him guilty as charged.
Here are the main three tiers of burden of proof:
- Beyond a reasonable doubt – this forms the highest tier in hierarchy of burden of proof and usually required in criminal cases. This type of proof has to be so strong that there is no denying it under any circumstances.
- Preponderance of the evidence – in this type of evidence, the quality of the proof is weighed. So here, the quantity becomes secondary. Whichever party provides with a better quality of proof, the ruling will most probably be in its favor. This type is usually required in civil cases.
- Clear and convincing evidence – this type of proof is required bring to light issues pertaining to a fact and is usually presented in child custody cases, paternity cases, cases related to wills and the like.
The above should clarify in detail the concept behind burden of proof.
Norman Hendricks is an amateur tennis player and is a mechanical engineer by profession. His experience with djpsolicitors.com has been excellent with respect to legal matters that he has had to deal with and recommends them completely.