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Burden of Proof

Burden of Proof - Law 101

Hello, I'm attorney Kyle Bachus. The legal world is full of overly complicated jargon and terminology that can be intimidating if you don't know what it means. In my law 101 video series, I'm breaking down some commonly used legal terms so you can be informed and confident should you ever need to take legal action.

In this episode of law 101, we're going to break down the phrase burden of proof in the legal world, okay? Burden of proof in the legal world actually has two parts.

One is a burden to produce evidence. If you're bringing a claim against somebody else, you, the person bringing the claim, has the burden to produce some evidence that the person who you're bringing a claim against either breach the duty, caused harm to you or acted unreasonably, okay? That's the burden of production of evidence. The second piece of burden of proof is the standard to be applied. This is a little bit more nuanced, but I think you'll get it because I'm going to talk to you for a second about the burden of proof in a criminal case.

Not a civil case, but a criminal case. In a criminal case, the burden of proof is beyond a reasonable doubt; we've all heard it, right? Beyond a reasonable doubt. That means when evidence is presented in a criminal case, the prosecution has to prove each element of the case beyond a reasonable doubt in the minds of the jury in order to get a conviction. In a civil case, there is a burden of proof. But it is not beyond a reasonable doubt; it is a lower standard. The idea is that in a criminal case we're taking away somebody's life or liberty, going to put them in jail, right? So the highest possible burden of proof.

In a civil case, civil cases are about money, suing for money, so we have a lower burden of proof. It's called a preponderance of the evidence. And what it really means is more likely true than not true, more likely true than not true, say 51% that might meet the civil burden of proof. And in fact, when we ask jurors to sit in a case that's a civil case, a tort case for negligence, we have to ask them, are you comfortable making decisions in this trial knowing that the only level of proof is more likely true than not true.

If the plaintiff in a civil case demonstrates, it's more likely true than not true to each element of the case; then, they win because their burden of proof is preponderance of the evidence, not beyond a reasonable doubt. At Bachus and Schanker, one of the things that we do is we represent people in civil cases, and we see, one, do we have that burden of proof from production of evidence, do we have enough evidence to go forward in the case?

And then, do we have enough evidence to prove our case by that preponderance of the evidence? If you have a question about your case, whether you have the evidence to bring a case, or whether you have the evidence to meet that burden, feel free to reach out to Bachus and Schanker, and we're happy to talk to you about it personally. To learn more about other law topics that can help you feel informed and confident about the law, make sure to check out more videos in this series.

Check Out More Videos In Our Law 101 Series

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