Burdens of Proof; What are they, and why do they matter?

If you were to ask a stranger on the street to name a burden of proof, more than likely, that individual will stare at you with a blank face and slowly walk away. That would be normal since burdens of proof are not something that most folks have to deal with at any point in their lives.  If you are a fan of crime dramas, though, I’m willing to bet that there is a burden of proof that you have heard about beyond a reasonable doubt. But what does beyond a reasonable doubt actually mean? For that answer and more we encourage you to read on.

In a legal matter, the Plaintiff has the burden of proof while the other party, the Defendant, does not carry any burden and is presumed to be innocent of the alleged wrong doing that the Plaintiff has accused them of. Having the burden of proof means that the Plaintiff has to produce enough evidence to satisfy all the required legal elements of the dispute.

That sounds simple enough, right? Wrong! In order to truly understand what burden of proof means we need to talk about different but related concepts: the burden of production, and the burden of persuasion.

The burden of production means that a party has the obligation to introduce evidence that is sufficient enough to raise a question of fact on a particular issue. If the party fails to produce such evidence, the court may enter a judgment in favor of the other party on that issue.

The burden of persuasion on the other hand is the obligation of a party to convince the trier of fact, a Judge or a Jury, that its version of the events that took place is more likely to be true than the other party’s version.

Certain cases have different burdens of proof.  For example, in a criminal case, the Prosecutor has the burden of proving the defendant’s guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt.” In Indiana, the Courts describe a reasonable doubt as “a fair, actual, and logical doubt based upon reason and common sense.” If the Prosecutor does not meet this burden, then the trier of fact must find the Defendant not guilty of the alleged crime.

In Civil cases, the Plaintiff has the burden to prove their case by a “preponderance of the evidence.” Indiana Courts have described preponderance of the evidence as the “greater weight of the evidence, that is, such evidence as when weighed with that opposed to it has more convincing force.” This means that the Plaintiff has to show that it is more likely than not that their version of the events is true. If the Plaintiff fails to meet this burden, then the Defendant must be found not guilty or not liable.

Whether you are in involved in a civil case or a criminal case it is important that you understand the burden of proof that is associated with that case. But what’s even more important is making sure that the attorney that you hire has experience in the type of case you are involved in and understands what must be shown in order to meet those burdens. We here at Hodge, Roth & Washington have that experience and are ready and willing to take on your case. Please contact us at 317-972-9317 to schedule your free consultation today and find out how we can help you. 

Tags :
Share This :

Recent Posts

Subscribe Our Newsletter