When it comes to legal proceedings, there is a legal standard that plays a crucial role in determining the outcome – the burden of proof. This term refers to the responsibility placed on a party to prove their claims or allegations in court. However, this burden can vary depending on whether the case falls under the civil or criminal court system.
Once the burden of proof is placed on a party, it also changes throughout the legal proceedings. It is not the same throughout the legal process, however. The plaintiff or defendant only has to prove so much by certain points in the legal process. If you’re unsure how the burden of proof works and when you have to prove what, the criminal defense and personal injury attorneys at Scartelli Olszewski, P.C. can explain.
At its core, the burden of proof refers to the obligation of a party (the plaintiff or defendant) to provide enough evidence and convince the judge or jury that their version of events is more likely than not. This does not mean that the other party doesn’t get the chance to respond. The other party is typically arguing from the position of disproving the opposing party, rather than proving their belief.
In other words, they must prove that there is a better chance that their claims are true. How likely they need to be depends on the type of case. This concept is essential in ensuring that the outcome of a case is based on evidence rather than speculation or assumptions.
There are several types of burden of proof in Pennsylvania, which typically vary based on the legal context. Here are some of the most common:
In civil court cases, the burden of proof falls on the plaintiff. The plaintiff would be the party bringing forth the lawsuit. The standard of proof required for a plaintiff in civil cases to fulfill their burden is first the prima facie, and then the “preponderance of evidence.” In medical malpractice and personal injury cases, we must meet these burdens of proof for our clients for trials to proceed.
This means that they must present enough evidence to show that it is more likely than not that the defendant is responsible for the harm or injury suffered by the plaintiff.
Criminal court cases have a much higher burden of proof. The prosecution carries the burden of proving their case “beyond a reasonable doubt.” This means that they must provide evidence that leaves no reasonable doubt in the minds of the judge or jury that the defendant committed the crime. This standard is significantly higher than that of civil cases and reflects the severity of punishment in criminal cases.
When we have to defend our clients, we have to argue against points that the prosecution makes. We can also attempt to prove that there is reasonable doubt that our client is guilty.
Understanding the burden of proof and its differences between civil and criminal cases is crucial when navigating the legal system. Make sure you have an attorney who understands the differences and specifics of each type of burden of proof such as those at Scartelli Olszewski, P.C.
We can effectively fight for the freedom of clients who are facing criminal defense charges and get compensation for someone who has suffered a personal injury due to someone’s negligence. To meet with our criminal defense or personal injury attorneys, contact us today.