How can one be found not guilty for wrongful death in a court of law, then face a civil trial for wrongful death and be found guilty?
#108930. Asked by esande151. (Sep 17 09 8:00 PM)
burden of proof|
In criminal litigation, the burden of proof is always on the state. The state must prove that the defendant is guilty. The defendant is assumed to be innocent; the defendant needs to prove nothing. (There are exceptions. If the defendant wishes to claim that he/she is insane, and therefore not guilty, the defendant bears the burden of proving his/her insanity. Other exceptions include defendants who claim self-defense or duress.)
In criminal litigation, the state must prove that the defendant satisfied each element of the statutory definition of the crime, and the defendant's participation, "beyond a reasonable doubt." It is difficult to put a valid numerical value on the probability that a guilty person really committed the crime, but legal authorities who do assign a numerical value generally say "at least 98% or 99%" certainty of guilt.
In civil litigation, the burden of proof is initially on the plaintiff. However, there are a number of technical situations in which the burden shifts to the defendant. For example, when the plaintiff has made a prima facie case, the burden shifts to the defendant to refute or rebut the plaintiff's evidence.
In civil litigation, the plaintiff wins if the preponderance of the evidence favors the plaintiff. For example, if the jury believes that there is more than a 50% probability that the defendant was negligent in causing the plaintiff's injury, the plaintiff wins. This is a very low standard, compared to criminal law. In my personal view, it is too low a standard, especially considering that the defendant could be ordered to pay millions of dollars to the plaintiff(s).
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