When discussing a legal proceeding, you may have heard someone say that an individual must prove their case by a “preponderance of the evidence.” But what does this mean, and how might it apply to your case?
In short, it’s the plaintiff’s responsibility to prove their case against you, which is known as the “burden of proof.” In civil cases, the standard of proof they must meet is a preponderance of the evidence, while in criminal cases the standard is beyond a reasonable doubt. Under the preponderance standard, the burden of proof is met when the plaintiff convinces the fact-finder that there is a greater than 50% chance that the claim is true.
In every civil or criminal case, a judge issues a judgment only after both the burden and standard of proof are applied to the legal proceeding. These important rules determine who is responsible for presenting evidence for or against a specific claim and the amount of evidence necessary to do so.
Breaking Down Evidentiary Standards and Burdens of Proof
In nearly every legal proceeding, the parties must adhere to important rules such as evidentiary standards and burdens of proof.
The Burden of Proof
The burden of proof plays a vital role in the success of a case and is defined as the legal requirement to establish who must present evidence in favor of a claim. It also determines how much evidence is needed to achieve that goal. In most cases, the burden of proof falls on the plaintiff.
There are two components to the burden of proof. First, the plaintiff puts forth evidence in the form of witness testimony, documents, or objects. At this point, the burden shifts to the defendant, who then has the opportunity to provide evidence that challenges the plaintiff’s evidence or present their own arguments.
Next, the plaintiff must satisfy the burden of persuasion. This refers to their duty to convince the fact-finder to view the facts in a way that favors them. In civil cases, the plaintiff’s burden is usually by a preponderance of the evidence, while in criminal cases the prosecution’s burden is typically beyond a reasonable doubt.
Preponderance of the Evidence
There are different legal standards of proof available depending on the legal circumstances and the type of case. The lowest standard of proof is preponderance of the evidence. This standard is met when it is greater than 50% likely that, based on all the reasonable evidence presented, the plaintiff’s claims are true and the defendant wronged him or her.
Clear and Convincing Evidence
Clear and convincing evidence requires a standard of proof above preponderance of the evidence but below proof beyond a reasonable doubt. To prove something using clear and convincing evidence, the plaintiff must establish that the contention is substantially more likely to be true. This standard is employed in both civil and criminal trials.
Beyond a Reasonable Doubt
Beyond a reasonable doubt is the top legal standard that the Constitution requires the government to uphold to prove someone guilty of a crime. The evidence must be so damning that no reasonable person could question the defendant’s guilt. In other words, the evidence can offer no logical explanation or conclusion besides the defendant committed the crime.
Whether it’s a civil or criminal case, the parties must meet or withstand certain burdens of proof to prevail. Seeking the assistance of a qualified West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney may help to solidify your overall strategy of convincing the judge or jury of your position and case.
Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer in West Palm Beach
Understanding what preponderance of the evidence is will give you a better sense of what takes place in a criminal or civil court proceeding. If you’ve been arrested for a criminal offense and would like to learn more about your legal options, it’s important that you get in touch with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in West Palm Beach as soon as possible. For legal assistance, look no further than The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel.
Attorney Brian Gabriel has served the community of West Palm Beach for more than 30 years as a DUI and criminal defense attorney. He understands the complexities that are often involved in these cases and can help protect your reputation and future. After an arrest, you can be assured that you’re in good hands and that Attorney Brian Gabriel will fight for your rights. Call (561) 622-5575 or complete our contact form for a free consultation.