What is the Burden of Proof?

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What is the Burden of Proof?
Legal jargon can often sound complicated and intimidating to anyone unfamiliar with legal practice. Learning basic legal terms and concepts can be a valuable in understanding your rights. If you have a claim, an important thing to know when deciding if you want to initiate a lawsuit against another individual or entity is what the burden of proof is in your case. Burden of proof is a legal term used to simplify the idea that the party who initiated the lawsuit has the responsibility to provide a sufficient amount of evidence to prove their case. The reason our legal system has put this in place is because the courts wish to avoid arguments based on conjecture and instead focus on the tangible facts.
Civil v. Criminal Procedures

In civil court, a judge or jury must decide based upon the preponderance of the evidence. Preponderance of evidence translates to the majority. In order for the plaintiff to be successful, they need to prove that the defendant is more than 50.1% liable. According to the California Civil Jury Instructions, “A party must persuade you [the jury], by the evidence presented in court, that what he or she is required to prove is more likely to be true than not true.”


For example, if a child were to get hurt by using a broken swing in a public park, the plaintiff would have to prove that the city is more responsible for the injury sustained than the injured party. Further, if the plaintiff can prove through evidence that the city knew about the broken swing and either failed to fix it or post proper signage, there would likely be reason enough to hold the city more accountable than the child and their parent. When looking for financial compensation, one would have to prove that the defendant was negligent by providing sufficient evidence to prove damages.


The burden of proof in criminal cases is much greater as the prosecution (Federal Government or State) must prove that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Every juror must unanimously agree that the defendant committed the crime they have been accused of. This is the legal standard for all criminal prosecutions because the stakes are so high when deciding whether or not an individual should be sentenced to prison, and their life and liberty are at issue. No matter the severity of the crime—whether a misdemeanor or felony—all are treated under the principle that you are innocent until proven guilty by the prosecutor.

Why Burden of Proof?

The burden of proof is necessary because it creates reasonable requirements that must be met in order to prosecute or file a claim. The American legal system can only function at its best when rulings and decisions are based on evidence and facts, as opposed to conjecture and emotions.


If you have a claim and would like to discuss your claim with an experienced attorney, please contact the Hariri Law Group. Our experienced attorneys will fight for your rights and obtain the compensation that you deserve.

True or False?

The defendant in a criminal trial must have a sufficient amount of evidence to prove their innocence beyond a reasonable doubt.


False. Only the prosecution carries the burden of proof which requires a sufficient amount of evidence to prove that the defendant is guilty upon reasonable doubt.

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