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What Is the Burden of Proof?

When an individual makes a claim in a lawsuit against another individual, he or she has the burden of proof. It is the obligation of the prosecution or plaintiff to substantiate the claims he or she has made against the defense or defendant. Onus Probandi, the Latin phrase referring to burden of proof, requires that the prosecution or plaintiff prove that the defendant is guilty of the charges he or she has brought up against him or her.

Burden of proof depends on the law in contest. Some cases may require the prosecution or plaintiff to prove that the defense or defendant is guilty beyond reasonable doubt. However, it is sometimes the task of the jury to determine if the defendant is guilty. The prosecution or plaintiff in this case does not necessarily carry the burden of proof.

In a civil lawsuit, the burden of proof rests on the plaintiff who makes a claim against the defendant. The plaintiff must provide enough evidence to meet the standard of preponderance of evidence. This refers to the probability that the defendant is more likely to be guilty than he or she is innocent. If the defendant is found to be 50% likely to have been the cause of action, he or she is sentenced by the judge or jury. In a civil lawsuit, the defendant may have to pay damages.

In a criminal lawsuit, the burden of proof lies with the prosecution. The prosecution must provide clear and convincing evidence, a standard akin to preponderance of evidence, in order to convict the defendant of the crime he or she has committed.

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