Generally used to describe the threshold that a party seeking to prove a fact in court must reach in order to have that fact legally established. For example, in criminal cases, the burden of proving the defendant’s guilt is on the prosecution, and they must establish that fact beyond a reasonable doubt. In civil cases, the plaintiff has the burden of proving his case by a preponderance of the evidence.
The burden of proof is often said to be comprised of two distinct but related concepts: the burden of production, and the burden of persuasion.
Definition from Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary
A party's job of convincing the decisionmaker in a trial that the party's version of the facts is true. In a civil trial, it means that the plaintiff must convince the judge or jury by a preponderance of the evidence that the plaintiff's version is true -- that is, over 50% of the believable evidence is in the plaintiff's favor. (That said, the burden of proof may shift to the defendant if the defendant raises a factual issue in defense to the plaintiff's claims.) In a criminal case, because a person's liberty is at stake, the government has a harder job, and must convince the judge or jury beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty.
Definition provided by Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary.
August 19, 2010, 5:12 pm