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Legal Burden of Proof

Legal burden of proof is the responsibility placed upon a civil or criminal defendant to substantiate allegations with evidence. In a criminal case, the prosecution has the burden of proof to show the defendant is guilty of a crime before they can be convicted by a jury. In some situations, the defendant has the burden of proving facts regarding a defense, like an insanity plea. In a civil case, the plaintiff is usually the one who has the burden of proof; however the defendant can also be required to prove certain defenses. Take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions regarding burden of proof.

When is the burden of proof "beyond a reasonable doubt" and when is it a "preponderance of the evidence"? What is the difference between them?

The difference is that Preponderance of the evidence is a part of a civil action while beyond a reasonable doubt is used in a criminal action.

Beyond reasonable doubt is very clear and concise. For example, every member of the jury has no doubt that a man murdered his wife because all the evidence confirmed that is what happened. The weapon that the man used had his bloody fingerprints on it. Also, when he gave his alibi that he was at an arcade when the murder occurred, the evidence proved that the arcade was not open at the time of the murder. With the evidence, it was concluded that the man had murdered his wife.

Preponderance of evidence would be a man being charged with parole violation (civil matter) and having his parole revoked when he was charged with another crime (dui) without adjudication (judgment). Because the man was in a position that he was accused of a crime would be enough to have his parole revoked and have him returned to prison. Even without solid evidence that the man had committed the crime, there was enough evidence of wrongdoing to revoke his parole.

What is the required burden of proof to bring a slander action? How much/what kind of evidence is necessary?

A person would have to prove negligence in order to collect compensatory damages in a slander action. However, in order to collect punitive damages, the person will have to show that the other party had intentionally meant to cause harm.

What is the burden of proof (validity/no repudiation) related to text messages, e-mail, and face book posts as evidence.

You can use emails or any other kind of communication unless there are claims that the evidence is doctored, falsified or obtained unlawfully. The person claiming the evidence is false will have the burden of proving the evidence isn't authentic. If the person can offer enough reason to question the evidence, the burden returns to the person who is presenting the evidence to prove the authenticity.

What is the burden of proof for default judgment? What grounds could a judge use to deny the default judgment?

Under Rule 4 of the Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure, if the defendant does not appear and defend, default judgment shall be entered against him. The plaintiff need only establish that the defendant was properly served, which is done by filing proof of service with the court.

A judge is unable to deny a default judgment for any reason. However, the defendant could file a motion to set aside the default judgment according to Rule 55(c) or Rule 60(b).

If you sue someone, who is the burden of proof on? Can you just randomly accuse someone of something to the authorities without being held legally responsible for false accusations?

If the state charges a person with a crime, it is the state that bears the burden of proving the person actually committed the crime even if the person has been wrongfully accused. A criminal charge can emerge from an accusation, however once the charge is in place, the state will have to prove their case.

The accused does have the option to sue the person who falsely accused them of a crime. They can sue for Abuse of Process, malicious prosecution, and defamation if the accuser has a part in the prosecution. The accuser could also face a charge of filing a false police report.

The burden of proof is the act of proving the validity of evidence that is admissible in court. Many people are unfamiliar with legal procedures and are unsure where to look for legal insight. If you find yourself involved in a situation requiring knowledge of the burden of proof, you should ask an Expert to assist you with legal insights.
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