What Is Burden of Proof?

What is “burden of proof” and how does it play a role in the outcome of a criminal case? This is the legal basis by which all criminal cases must abide. State prosecutors have the responsibility of using all of the evidence to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the defendant is guilty of committing the crime of which they were accused.

Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

During the course of the trial, prosecutors must prove these two elements:

  • The defendant acted with criminal intent
  • The defendant knowingly or purposefully committed a criminal act

At minimum, there must be reasonable suspicion that a crime was committed. That is the first step; otherwise, legally, a police officer cannot detain someone. Finally, there must be probable cause, which means that the evidence must be compelling enough to support an officer’s decision to arrest someone. As the trial goes underway, a defendant is presumed to be innocent until the evidence proves his or her culpability.

What Are Defenses to Burden of Proof?

Each side, both prosecutors and defense, has a chance to argue on a piece of evidence or witness testimony. If the defense raises any doubts about the evidence, the prosecutors must have the responsibility to either respond or disprove the statements.

One form of defense that may be useful in such a case is affirmative evidence, where a Fort Worth criminal defense attorney presents an argument that something unlawful has occurred. One example would be if the evidence was discovered unlawfully, such as in an illegal search and seizure. Another would be if there was misconduct on the part of the prosecutors in the courtroom.

If you have any questions about this or would like to discuss a criminal case with the Law Offices of David Sloane, please do not hesitate to schedule a free, confidential case consultation.

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