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Burden of Proof Definition
What You Need to Know

In legal terms, the burden of proof, or “onus probandi” in Latin, refers to the standard that a party seeking to prove a fact in court must satisfy to have that fact established.
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C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt
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Why Is the Burden of Proof Important?

The burden of proof plays a critical role in the success of a case. It is the legal requirement to determine who is responsible for presenting evidence that proves or refutes a claim. The burden of proof also determines how much evidence is needed to achieve that goal.

What Is Preponderance of Evidence?

Preponderance of evidence is one form of an evidentiary standard used in a burden of proof analysis. Under this standard, the burden of proof is met when the party with the burden convinces the judge or jury that there is more than a 50% chance that the claim is true. This is the burden of proof in a civil trial.

Why Is the Burden of Proof Higher in a Criminal Trial Than in a Civil Trial?

The burden of proof is higher in a criminal case because the defendant’s freedom is in jeopardy. The burden in criminal cases is beyond a reasonable doubt. You cannot be convicted by a judge or jury if there is reasonable uncertainty that you’re guilty of the crime.

What Is Beyond a Reasonable Doubt?

Beyond a reasonable doubt means that the prosecution must convince the jury that there is no other reasonable explanation that can come from the evidence presented at trial. In other words, the jury must be certain of the defendant’s guilt in order to render a guilty verdict.

What Is the Burden of Proof Fallacy?

The burden of proof fallacy occurs when someone tries to evade their burden of proof, by denying it, pretending to have fulfilled it, or shifting it to someone else.

Individuals can hide their evasion of the burden of proof by denying personal commitment to the claim, shifting the responsibility to a secondary source, making claims that are unfalsifiable, or combining the burden of proof fallacy with other logical fallacies and/or rhetorical techniques.

Related Article: What if You Miss Jury Duty in California?

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