When heading into legal proceedings, it’s common knowledge that no matter which side of the court you’re on, you need to build up your case so you can present it to the court and the jury to prove whatever claim you’re trying to make. A case is made up of evidence and facts, witness statements, and so on, but one term you may keep coming across is the ‘burden of proof.’
For clarity and to clear the air, today, we’re going to focus on what it takes to solidify a civil case, what is meant by the burden of proof, and everything else you need to know relating to this term. Let’s get straight into it.
What is the Burden of Proof?
Let’s say that you’re the plaintiff in a court case. You have both the facts and the legal grounds in which to make a complaint that will stand in a court of law and will move into the realms of civil litigation. However, as the plaintiff, you have what is known as ‘the burden of proof,’ which means the duty falls on you, the plaintiff, to provide evidence for the case to move forward.
Of course, that’s not to say that you need to be convincing the jury just yet, that’s what the court case is for, but instead, you’re creating a case that is going to be able to stand in court. The California Civil Jury Instruction 200 explains it perfectly by stating;
“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. This is referred to as “the burden of proof.”
In other words, the plaintiff holds the ‘burden’ or the duty of providing the proof that will make up the foundations of their case.
The plaintiff will collect proof and then uses it to persuade the jury of their case. Based on the evidence, the jury will then decide whether or not the allegations against the defender are true. If they decide they are, then the plaintiff will win the case, but as you can see, it all relies on the plaintiff acquired and presenting the evidence to begin with.
You may find this interesting because, in a civil litigation case, the defendant doesn’t actually need to do anything to prove their case, hence why the burden is known for being on the plaintiff. It’s also worth noting that in criminal cases, the prosecutors will have a much higher burden of proof than in litigation cases.
For example, an ex-husband stealing jewelry out of a bedside table would require less burden of proof than a murder case.
Hopefully, this has explained what a burden of proof is and the importance of it. Understanding how the litigation system works is essential when it comes to managing and understanding the ins and outs of your case and how the proceedings are going to proceed. However, if there is still any confusion, then it’s recommended you speak with a legal professional and advisor who will be able to guide you in your individual case.