Burdens of Proof in Civil and Criminal Trials

Burden of proof is a standard required in all trials. It asks the party seeking to recover damages to legally establish facts which will be considered by the court or jury. There are different standards in criminal versus civil cases. We offer free consultations, so give us a call today at 419-900-0955 to talk through the specific aspects of your case. The trial attorneys at Sawan & Sawan have a wide range of experience across many areas of litigation and are happy to field general questions as part of a free initial consultation. 

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Civil v. Criminal Trials

Criminal trials require the prosecution to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. Each fact to be put in evidence must be established “beyond a reasonable doubt.” This is a very high standard and if not proven, the case will fail for the prosecution. On the other hand, in civil cases, the plaintiff or injured victim must prove facts by a preponderance of the evidence. Burden of proof consists of both burden of production and burden of persuasion.

Different Types of Burdens of Proof

The different legal standards throughout the U.S. may include, burden of proofs as follows:

The 3 most commonly used standards of proof are: Beyond a Reasonable Doubt; Clear and Convincing Evidence; and Preponderance of the Evidence.

Reasonable Doubt

As previously mentioned, beyond a reasonable doubt is generally used in criminal cases. The prosecution has the burden of proving that the defendant is guilty beyond all reasonable doubt. This means, there can be no other reasonable explanation that can come from the evidence which is presented at trial. The jury must be very certain of the defendant’s guilt in order to convict. This standard of proof is much higher than a “preponderance of the evidence” standard used in civil cases.

Clear and Convincing Evidence

The clear and convincing evidence standard requires proof that evidence submitted during trial must be highly and substantially more probable to be true than not. The jury must have a strong belief in the evidence admitted at trial. It is a higher standard than the preponderance of the evidence requirement.

Preponderance of the Evidence

The preponderance of the evidence standard only requires a certainty greater than 50 percent. This occurs when the plaintiff convinces the jury that there is a greater than 50% chance that the claims are true. This burden stays with the plaintiff who is usually the victim.

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About the Authors: Sawan & Sawan is a Toledo, Ohio based Personal Injury, Civil Litigation, Truck Accident, Car Accident and Insurance Law Firm with lawyers licensed to practice in Ohio, Michigan and Georgia.

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At Sawan & Sawan, we offer free initial consultations. We represent clients in Ohio, Georgia, Michigan and Florida. From our family to yours.

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Dennis P. Sawan


Licensed in Ohio and Georgia


Christopher A. Sawan


Licensed in Ohio and Michigan


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