Burden of Proof

Last updated: June 28, 2018

What Does Burden of Proof Mean?

Burden of proof in a legal proceeding refers to the obligation to prove the facts of the case. In a civil action, the burden of proof usually rests with the person who has brought the suit, the plaintiff. In a criminal proceeding, the obligation to prove that the defendant is guilty of the alleged crime lies with the prosecutor, representing the government.

Determining whether an individual has met their burden of proof is usually a question of fact. A jury or judge will decide whether the information provided demonstrates that an assertion is true or not. Less commonly, a judge may determine as a matter of law that the information provided in support of an asserted fact is so lacking that it cannot be deemed true.


WorkplaceTesting Explains Burden of Proof

In a lawsuit or criminal prosecution, facts can be agreed to by the parties or disputed. When a fact is essential to the disposition of the case, then it must be proven or disproven. The party who is legally required to establish or disprove the fact is said to bear the burden of proof with regard to that fact. Usually, the burden of proof for a set of facts is placed on the plaintiff in a case. However, some defenses, particularly affirmative defenses, reverse this standard and place the burden of proof on the defendant.


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