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Burden of Proof in California

What is Burden of Proof in California?

The burden of proof in California is the obligation to establish the elements on the subject of the claim.

In a criminal trial, the burden is solely on the prosecution because of the presumption of innocence, where in a civil trial the burden of proof is originally on the plaintiff and then can be shifted to the defendant.  In civil trial the burden of proof is much lower for plaintiffs than the burden of proof for prosecutors in a criminal cases. During a criminal case, a prosecutor must establish the case against the defendant beyond a reasonable doubt.

Burden of Proof in Civil Cases:

Different standards of proof are used depending on what is at stake in the case, such as the issue of rights to a property or money.

  • Preponderance of evidence

In majority civil trials, it is the plaintiff’s obligation to prove the case by a preponderance of the evidence. According to CACI 200 the party must be able to prove, by the evidence presented in the court, that what he is required to prove is more likely to be true than not true. Thus, the preponderance of the evidence means that the plaintiff must show the court, that there is a greater than 50% chance that the defendant caused him the harm or injury.

  • Clear and Convincing Evidence

According to CACI 201 certain facts must be proved by clear and convincing evidence, which is a higher standard of burden of proof. This means the plaintiff must be able to establish that it is highly probable that the fact is true and there is a substantial likelihood that the defendant committed the illegal act.  The burden of proof by clear and convincing evidence is required when particularly significant individual rights or interests are at stake, such as: involuntary commitment, termination of parental rights, withdrawing life support from a relative or deportation.

Burden Shifting in Civil Cases

In case the plaintiff is able to present sufficient evidence and convince a jury by the preponderance of the evidence that the defendant has committed the illegal act, the burden of proof will shift to the defendant. Numerous forms of evidence can be offered at trial, such as:

  • Live testimony from expert witnesses, parties, or other witnesses
  • Medical records
  • Testimony which is recorded prior to trial
  • Videos
  • Photos

The burden of proof can continue to shift until one party is incapable of meeting the burden.

The Burden of Proof in a Criminal Trial

As mentioned above, in a criminal trial, the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty, therefore, the burden of proof is always on the prosecution.

In case the prosecution fails to prove the defendant’s unlawful actions, the defendant doesn’t have to prove anything. The highest standard in criminal cases is beyond a reasonable doubt, which is a much higher burden than preponderance of evidence. Beyond a reasonable doubt means that there is a great likelihood that the defendant is guilty of committing the crime.

Do you have any specific questions about a situation involved with yourself or a loved one? An attorney near you should be able to provide you with legal assistance regarding your particular matter. Our law firm in California offers services throughout Los Angeles County, San Bernardino County, Ventura County, and all surrounding areas.

Are you are involved in a situation that consists of legal matters? If so, you do not need to go through the situation on your own. Seeking professional advice and assistance regarding your specific case can increase the likeliness of a positive outcome for yourself and your family.

 

 

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