The Preponderance of the Evidence in Civil Law

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What Does "Preponderance" Mean?

The civil procedure rules used by all U.S. Courts require a plaintiff to prove his case by a preponderance of the evidence. This generally means a greater than 50% chance, based on the evidence, that the defendant caused the damage. The defendant doesn't have to do anything to defend their case if the plaintiff fails to prove their case by a preponderance of the evidence.   

Shifting Burden of Proof in Civil Cases: Who Gets To Prove What?

In civil cases, the plaintiff starts out with the "burden of proof." This means that the plaintiff must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant did the wrong act. However, once the plaintiff has presented enough evidence to prove this, the burden then shifts to the defendant, who must offer more evidence that he more than likely did not do the act. 

Persuading the Jury: Why is Shifting the Burden of Proof Important?

The plaintiff always has the final burden to persuade the jury that the defendant did the wrong. However, the burden to produce enough evidence can switch back and forth, as discussed above. Once the burden of proof has shifted to the defendant, and the defendant can no longer shift it back because of a lack of evidence, the plaintiff can present the whole case to the jury. If the plaintiff persuades the jury effectively, the plaintiff will probably win the case. 

Why Seek an Attorney Help?

To understand your rights and strategies during legal proceedings, you may the assistance of need a qualified civil attorney. A trial lawyer can explain the standard of review to be used in your case.

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Last Modified: 09-17-2013 02:22 PM PDT

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