The “Burden of Proof” in Civil and Criminal Cases

Posted: August 5th, 2011

In civil lawsuits, the plaintiff brings the action against one or more defendants, depending of course on the matter at issue. The plaintiff has the burden of proof meaning that the plaintiff must prove his/her case. In civil cases, plaintiff must prove his case “by a preponderance of the evidence.” This is similar, but not the same, as the position of the prosecution in a criminal case.

In criminal cases, the State is represented by the State’s Attorney (known as the District Attorney in some states). The state has the burden of proof in a criminal prosecution “beyond a reasonable doubt.” This is a higher and more  difficult burden of proof than that in civil cases.

In civil matters, the parties retain their own counsel unless they choose to act as their own attorneys (not a very good idea, by the way).

So then, it is fair to say that in a civil case the plaintiff “prosecutes” the civil law suit since, like the state or government in criminal matters, the civil suit is filed by the plaintiff and the plaintiff has the “burden of proof” in the matter.

If you have a civil or criminal litigation matter please contact Noonan Perillo Ltd. at (847) 244-0111 or (312) 981-0120 to discuss your claim.

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