March 24, 2023

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What Are the Three Burdens of Proof?

What Are the Three Burdens of Proof?

In any court case, one or both parties have something they need to prove. In a criminal case, the prosecutor will need to prove the defendant’s guilt. Personal injury cases require that the claimant prove that someone else was responsible for their injuries. The burden of proof is not the same in every type of case, so it is always important to have an experienced Murfreesboro attorney representing you. Here is a brief overview of three different standards of proof.

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

This is the standard of proof necessary in criminal cases. Since someone’s freedom and reputation are on the line, it is logical that this is the highest standard of proof in any court case. Courts are rightfully more concerned about not convicting innocent people than they are about making sure that every criminal is convicted.

Each crime has elements, and the prosecutor must prove every single element of the crime. Until the prosecutor does this, the defendant is presumed innocent. The prosecutor is not obligated to overcome every single possible doubt, but they must go beyond a reasonable doubt.

Preponderance of the Evidence

This is the standard of proof used in most civil cases. It is less than the reasonable doubt standard because these cases involve money and property as opposed to someone’s liberty. It is possible for someone to be acquitted in a criminal trial but then found liable in a subsequent civil lawsuit.

This standard of proof requires that a plaintiff prove that it is more likely than not that each of the facts occurred. The judge or jury does not have to be absolutely convinced of each fact. However, they do need to lean towards one side. In other words, the claimant must show that there is more than a 50% chance that their claim is true.

Clear and Convincing Evidence

This is an intermediate standard that is sometimes used in both civil and parts of criminal cases. This standard could be used in the following matters:

  • Administrative law hearings
  • Certain procedural aspects of cases (both criminal and civil)
  • Some equity cases such as paternity and custody
  • Actions to involuntarily hospitalize someone

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This standard means that the evidence is “highly and substantially more probable to be true than not.” The judge or jury must have a firm belief in its truth. Here, there is the presumption that someone has a civil liberty, but it can be overcome by meeting the clear and convincing evidence standard.

When you consult a lawyer for their opinion about your case, they will think of it in terms of the above standards of proof when they give you their opinion. The burden of proof would also affect your legal course of action and strategy.

Get Help from a Murfreesboro Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you or a loved one find yourself in the criminal justice system, you need an attorney immediately. Contact a Murfreesboro criminal defense lawyer at Dotson & Taylor online or call us at (615) 890-1982 to schedule your free case consultation. We are standing by and ready to help.