When it comes to the law, burden of proof is a common factor that plays a major role in many cases because it determines who is responsible for proving that the claims made in a civil or criminal case are true or not true. Depending on the case, there are different amounts of proof required to accomplish the goal of proving what happened, for instance 3 of the most common standards are proof beyond a reasonable doubt, preponderance of evidence, and clear and convincing evidence. When you have the burden of proof, you will need to present enough evidence to prove your case or claims.
Typically, the plaintiff or the prosecutor will have the burden of proof since they are the one claiming wrongdoing by another party, but this is not always the case. This means they will need to come up with enough evidence in the form of witness testimony, exhibits, or affidavits to be able to convince a judge or jury to find the defendant at fault in civil manners or convict them of a crime in criminal proceedings.
If the party with the burden of proof cannot provide sufficient evidence of wrongdoing or criminal activity, then the case may be dismissed by the judge, or the jury, by following the law regarding the burden of proof against the plaintiff. For this reason it is extremely important to be prepared and ready to prove your claims if you are the one with the burden of proof.
Burden of proof has some differences, depending on the type of case in question. In civil lawsuits, such as personal injury cases, the burden of proof rests on the shoulders of the plaintiff or the person filing the suit against the at fault party. It is their responsibility to prove that the defendant caused damages to them due to their actions. In most civil cases, a preponderance of evidence is the required burden of proof, which boils down to “more likely than not.” Depending on the severity of the case, you may be required to prove a defendant’s actions caused harm with clear and convincing evidence backing up your claims. This is a higher standard than “more likely than not” or “51 percent likely,” yet less than proof beyond a reasonable doubt required in a criminal case to convict someone of a crime.
Criminal cases are different when it comes to burden of proof, as it is the responsibility of the prosecutor to prove the guilt of the defendant beyond a reasonable doubt, while the defendant enjoys a presumption of innocence. This means the defendant doesn’t need to prove innocence, but the prosecution must prove guilt to an extent that is sufficient according to a judge or jury.
In Colorado, reasonable doubt has a very specific meaning: Reasonable doubt means a doubt based upon reason and common sense which arises from a fair and rational consideration of all of the evidence, or the lack of evidence, in the case. It is a doubt which is not a vague, speculative or imaginary doubt, but such a doubt would cause reasonable people to hesitate to act in matters of importance to themselves.
In some criminal cases, the burden of proof may shift to the defendant when they need to be able to demonstrate something that may affect the way the jury decides the evidence. This can be situations like pleading insanity or claiming an affirmative defense, such as self defense.
Preponderance of evidence may sound confusing, but it’s really just a fancy way of saying that you’ll need to prove that the defendant is more than 50% responsible for the event that caused damages to the plaintiff. This is the lowest level of proof required for a jury to reach a verdict and is the standard in most civil cases.
When the case at hand is more serious than a very minor accident, the courts want to see clear and convincing evidence of fault. Requiring more evidence than preponderance of evidence, clear and convincing evidence means proving that there is a very strong probability that the alleged actions took place. This form of evidence is most commonly used in cases where someone faces termination of parental rights.
Criminal proceedings demand the highest level of proof according to the law, which is proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Due to the fact that in the United States, we are presumed innocent until proven guilty, it is of the utmost importance to be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the crime was committed. This can mean proving that there is no other reasonable explanation for the event happening outside of the alleged crimes or that the defendant is guilty of the crime beyond any reasonable doubt to a normal person being presented with the evidence.
Personal injury cases usually involve negligence on behalf of the defendant, which can mean that the burden of proof is on the plaintiff who needs to be able to show that the other party breached their duty of care and as a result, caused damages to you. If the defendant acted in a way that most normal people would not act, then there is proof of negligence. Knowing the difference between negligence, gross negligence and contributory negligence can aid in helping you figure out how your case will turn out. In any event, you will need to speak with a qualified Colorado Springs personal injury attorney if you want the best possible outcome for your case.
If you have been involved in an accident or are being charged with a crime, knowing the ins and outs of burden of proof can help you determine how you will need to go about presenting your defense. Don’t try to go at it alone, contact out Colorado Springs personal injury attorneys today for a free consultation with one of our attorneys. We would be happy to answer any questions you have and help you with your case.
We serve clients charged with crimes or injured anywhere throughout the state of Colorado, but we focus on residents of these areas: Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs, Fountain, Briargate, Monument, Black Forest, Pueblo, Canon City, Larkspur, Security-Widefield, Peyton, Falcon, Calhan, Castle Rock, Teller County, El Paso County, Elbert County, Park County, Douglas County and beyond.