In a criminal defense case, you may hear the term “burden of proof” thrown around, but what does it mean exactly? We'll get to it, but first, the Buffalo, NY attorney you choose for your defense could greatly impact the strength of the prosecution's evidence by creating enough doubt.
The burden of proof differs between criminal and civil cases. In a criminal case, facts need to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. In a civil case, simply being more likely than not suffices. This is because criminal cases tend to carry jail time, while civil cases usually are monetary forfeiture. Today, we're focusing on this standard as it applies to a criminal defense case.
What is a part of the burden of proof?
The burden of proof has two components, the burden of production and the burden of persuasion. The burden of production is the obligation to gather and produce evidence to present to a jury. The burden of persuasion, then, is the obligation to convince the jury and judge that the evidence meets a certain standard, which in our case is beyond a reasonable doubt. If the prosecution's evidence fails to meet the burden of persuasion, the case against the defendant will likely fail because the evidence hasn't been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
What does the burden of proof mean? Does it shift between parties?
The burden of proof is, simply, the burden of proving every criminal element of a case. beyond a reasonable doubt to secure a conviction. The burden generally falls to the prosecution, but certain elements can flip who bears the burden of a particular aspect of the case. The prosecution would need to establish a fact that proves an element of crime in order to shift to the defense.
When the defendant has the burden of proof, it generally doesn't mean that they need to disprove a fact outright, but provide enough evidence to provide doubt. Not every single fact needs to be disproved either, when a case is presented properly, creating enough about a central point to the criminality of the case could suffice. Remember, this is beyond a reasonable doubt, meaning that evidence against the defendant must be so strong that no reasonable person would hesitate to act upon it in their own affairs.
For example, if you've been searched and found to be holding a laptop that was flagged as stolen, you would need a reasonable explanation as to why you legally possess that item. As an example, to defend this aspect of the case, you would need to produce a receipt or testimony the item was a gift. That would be sufficient to flip the burden back to the prosecution. This is a very simple example, for advice in any case it is best to contact a lawyer directly.
Remember One Thing. When Charged, You are innocent until proven guilty
The “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard of burden of proof in a criminal case is the highest bar to clear in the legal system. It's a central aspect of the American legal system's idea that you are innocent unless and until proven guilty. The legal system is founded upon the idea that it is better to let a guilty person walk than to incarcerate an innocent one.
You may not think you have a case to support your position when facing the obligations and intimidation of the courtroom, judge, jury, etc. You need someone experienced who has seen and been in the places you don't want to be… The courtroom. A seasoned and experienced criminal defense attorney will thoroughly examine every detail of your case and seek to find the best path to ensure your conviction is innocent or at the very least lower than initially anticipated.
Facing any charge is a stressful endeavor. You need a WNY criminal lawyer on your side. Give us at Dan DuBois Law a FREE call today at (888) 684-8589, or submit a contact form to receive a call back from us asap. Need financing help? We have a page for you! Do your research on options and hire the best criminal defense attorney in Buffalo NY to help with your case!
Disclaimer: This blog is not legal advice. For legal advice, reach out to a NY Defense Attorney, such as Daniel DuBois. Prior results do not guarantee future success. The example provided above is simply that and intended to illustrate a potential defense.