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The Burden Of Proof In Legal Proceedings Law Essay

There are five stages involving the burden of proof, these stages are very particular to how a victim is proven guilty or innocent. The first stage is the process of the burden of proof is The Adversary System, the burden is on the prosecutor to prove the defendant guilty, to be clear of logical doubt, and the defense attorney is responsible for arguing for the client’s innocence and asserting legal protections. This System contains four stages as well; the first is Substantive law which creates legal obligations. “Tort, contract, and domestic relations are examples of substantive civil law (Neubauer, & Fradella, 2008).” Homicide, theft, and breaking and entering are examples of substantive criminal law, which still are included in the Substantive law.

Procedural law alternatively, establishes the methods of enforcing these legal obligations. (Neubauer, & Fradella, 2008), Trials are the best known aspect of American procedural law, but trials are not the only things done. Before trials there must be ways to begin, conduct and end some lawsuits. Judges and lawyers are significant in the procedural law process; they play a huge role in this legal course of action. Criminal investigations are conducted by a distinct government official, whose occupation is to establish a combined description of finding facts that presents the defendant’s innocence or facts that could show that he or she is guilty. Along with the facts that show whether he or she is guilty are safeguards.

Safeguards is the guiding assumption of the adversary system, in which two parties come within reach of the facts from completely diverse perspectives, they uncover more information of the truth then one investigator. Through cross-examination, each side is eligible for a witness, and the cross-examination is protected by the Sixth Amendment “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right… to be confronted with witnesses against him (Neubauer, & Fradella, 2008).” Being that power is put in the hands of numerous unlike parties, the adversary system is limited on powers. These different types of safeguards give the jury power to disregard the judge if he/she is being biased, and reach a fair verdict and the judge can do the same if the jury is being unfair. In diffusing power, the adversary system delivers a third safeguard: it charges a specific actor the defense attorney with proclaiming the rights of the defendant. The attorney searches out violations for the rights of the defendant, they act as challengers in the court process and are ready to challenge the government by insisting that the proper procedures are followed. Once the attorney has made sure all the proper procedures have been met, in the adversary system it then has to go through the next following steps which are presumptions and inferences.

The adversary system also includes presumptions and inferences which all trials go through. In the United States of America all trials are governed by both rules of procedure and rules of evidence. Trier of fact is one of the foundations of evidence law; the trier of fact must have an evidentiary starting point, most of the time the starting place involves two presumptions. “a presumption is a conclusion or deduction, that the law requires the trier of fact to make in the absence of evidence to the contrary” (Neubauer, & Fradella, 2008). “In contrast, inferences are permissive, they are conclusions or deductions the trier of fact may reasonably make based on the facts that have been established by the evidence, but the trier of fact is not required to do so” (Neubauer, & Fradella, 2008). The two presumptions the criminal trials start with, are the presumptions of sanity and the presumption of innocence. Presumption of sanity requires all defendants to be considered sane, unless evidence of their insanity is proven, by explicit and plausible evidence. The presumption of innocence refers to the defendant being innocent unless the prosecution meets its burden to prove the defendant guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

The term burden of proof consists of two burdens: the burden of persuasion and the burden of production. The burden of persuasion, more commonly called the burden of proof, is the obligation of a party to prove a fact to a certain level, either beyond a reasonable doubt, by preponderance of the evidence, or by clear and convincing evidence (Neubauer, & Fradella, 2008). The burden of production is when he or she must prove evidence to put facts in issue, similarly stated to as the burden of going forward (Neubauer, & Fradella, 2008). The burden of proof is where the accused person has tier of fact which is commonly known as the judge or jury that all evidence is true and be able to back up all allegations. In addition, it is very important that when referring to the burden of proof it has to be separated from a criminal case and civil case. In a criminal case, the burden of proof or evidence must be proven “beyond a reasonable doubt” that is what is required by the state or government. In a civil case, a plaintiff must prove his or her case by a “preponderance of the evidence.” The burden of production or the burden of going of going forward requires a member in the law team to explain or refute any evidence brought forward also it shifts during a civil proceeding. It shifts to the defendant after the plaintiff rests its case, but it may shift even before that time. In a wrongful death case, for example, the plaintiff may, at a certain point in the trial, file a motion asking for a ruling (sometimes a motion for summary judgment or a motion for a directed verdict) in his or her favor by maintaining that he or she has presented sufficient evidence to show that the defendant’s actions resulted in the victims death. The burden then shifts to the defendants to produce additional evidence to refute the plaintiffs claim, otherwise, the judge may grant the plaintiffs motion, thus concluding in the plaintiffs favor (Burden of proof, 2010). The levels of proof consist of eight levels.

The lowest level is called “no proof” if there is no proof than there simply is no trial. Mere suspicion is a hunch which most law enforcement officers go by this. However, it will not hold up in any judicial court of law. The next level would be Articulable reasonable suspicion. An example of this would be if a person shows signs of either having committed a crime or about to commit a crime by way of their actions or bodily movements, can give law enforcement officers the right to stop and frisk a suspect. The U.S. Supreme Court decision Terry v. Ohio set the precedent for stop and frisks. The next highest level of proof is called probable cause. Probable cause is where a person has a good chance or probability that he or she had committed a crime or was involved in that crime. “Probable cause is more important in criminal cases, than in civil cases, this is because in criminal cases it is the basis for searching and arresting a person and depriving them of their liberty (Phelps, & Lehman, 2005).” However, in civil cases their property can be deprived, but it would against the law if they took away their liberty. This is why, police officers must have probable cause to search, seize evidence and most importantly to arrest a person. Probable cause is equal to absolute certainty. Police officers do not have to be absolutely certain that criminal activity is taking place to perform a search or make an arrest. Probable cause can exist even when there is some doubt as to the person’s guilt. Courts take care to review the actions of the police in the context of everyday life, balancing the interests of law enforcement against the interests of personal liberty in determining whether probable cause existed for a search or arrest (Phelps, & Lehman, 2005).” The next level is preponderance of evidence. “A standard of proof that must be met by a plaintiff if he or she is to win a civil action (Phelps, & Lehman, 2005).” A preponderance of evidence can also be commonly defined as suficicant evidence that has a higher probability than not that all the facts given are true. This type of preponderance of evidence ultimately helps judges and juries conclude that a claimant met his or her burden of proof. The majority of civil claims are subjected to a preponderance of evidence standard. An example of this would be; “a court may use a preponderance of evidence standard when a mother seeks to establish that a certain man is the father of her child. Most states use the preponderance of evidence standard in these cases because they have an interest in ensuring that fathers support their children (Phelps, & Lehman, 2005).” If a civil clam is more difficult to prove, then the next step or level would be clear and convincing evidence, which is commonly called clear and convincing proof. Clear and convincing proof means “A standard applied by a jury or by a judge in a nonjury trial to measure the probability of the truthfulness of particular facts alleged during a civil lawsuit (Lehman, & Phelps, 2005). In this level one must prove insanity; this would be in some criminal cases. This level is higher than the preponderance of evidence standard, but lower than beyond a reasonable doubt. The presumption of innocence is marked as being one of the most important processes in the American Criminal Justice System. A challenged definition of beyond a reasonable doubt that was upheld by the Supreme Court reads as follows; “A reasonable doubt is an actual and substantial doubt arising from the evidence, from the facts or circumstances shown by the evidence, or from the lack of evidence. The final level is beyond all doubt; in this level proof to an absolute certainty is not required in any phase of the judicial process in the United States (Neubauer, & Fradella, 2008).”

The famous case in which mere suspicion, and beyond a reasonable doubt was put to the test was the case of O.J. Simpson. On June 12, 1994, Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Lye Goldman were brutally killed outside her town house in Brentwood, California. The murders immediately made news coverage because Nicole’s ex-husband and former football player was O.J Simpson. Simpson was under suspicion and immediately taken into custody. He was arrested a few days later charged with two homicide murders. Eighteen month later Simpson was released and sent back to his estate by LAPD, but still not yet found innocent or guilty. On June 20, 1994 Simpson was formally charged and was found not guilty. But on June 22, a tape was found and given to the district attorney’s office. The tape was a phone call made to 911 from Nicole Simpson a year back in October, on the tape Nicole was scared and crying for help and O.J was heard swearing in the background. Now with this out Simpson was then seen as a violent wife- batterer and now he was fit for a profile of an abuser-turned-murder. Central to this defense strategy was Detective Mark Fuhrman, one of the investigation detectives at the Bundy crime scene, While Fuhrman was there he stumped over a bloody leather glove that matched one left behind at the Bundy scene. However, a vital piece of evidence that never made it to court is that Fuhrman was alone behind Simpson’s estate were he had motive and opportunity to plant the glove taken from the Bundy scene, to make the case against Simpson ironclad. In July, 1994 enough evidence was found for Simpson to stand trial, this was founded by Judge Kathleen-Powell but a few weeks later, Judge Lance became the trial judge. Since Simpson was accused with Nicole’s murder and the Bundy evidence that was planted. The case of the people vs. O.J Simpson on January 2, 1995 lasted for nine months. The jury decided to make Simpson try on the glove that was found at his estate in front of the courtroom, it did not fit. The jury came to the conclusion that the glove was planted by the LAPD to frame Simpson. The worst days of the trial were October 2 and 3 when the jury came to a verdict. On October 3, 1994, the whole nation waited to hear the news that Simpson was “not guilty” of the murders of Nicole Brown and Ronald Lyle Goldman. “The trial of the century at which he was acquitted has proved to satisfy no one. Many people remain convinced that Simpson legally, if not financially, got away with murder.”(Simpson, 2010).O.J Simpson’s trial went through a majority of the basic levels of proof; his trial mostly involved the levels of mere suspicion and beyond reasonable doubt.

When a dispute cannot be resolved without a trial, the adversary system is the established method of adjudication in the United States. The organized bar remains committed to the notion that vigorous advocacy by both sides of a controversy ultimately leads the judge or jury to the facts needed for a fair resolution and that it is the process that is best calculated to elicit the truth and to protect individual rights, it promotes a free and pluralistic society with the best available means of settling disputes. The adversary system plays a key role in protecting a person’s rights when accused of a crime. Once the legal system puts all four stages into play and all the levels of proof have been answered, this ensures a person’s rights have been met(Detroit, Gale, 2010).

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