less than 1 minute read

Burden of Proof - The Reasonable Doubt Rule, Reasons For The Rule, Issues That Should Be Governed By The Rule

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationCrime and Criminal Law

The principal purpose of most trials is to resolve a dispute about facts. Both parties present evidence to a fact finder, either judge or jury, who evaluates the evidence and resolves the controversy. A number of rules of law guide the fact finder in evaluating the evidence; most important of these are the rules that tell the fact finder who should have the benefit of the doubt.

These rules are typically expressed as statements about which party must carry the burden of proof, and how heavy the burden is. For example, in most civil cases, the plaintiff has the burden of proof, and the burden is to prove the case "by a preponderance of evidence." In criminal cases, it has long been the general rule that the prosecution has the burden of proof, and the burden is to prove guilt "beyond a reasonable doubt."

BARBARA D. UNDERWOOD

SCOTT E. SUNDBY

Additional topics