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Proof is the evidence used to either support or ascertain that something happened or that a person’s statement is true. Proof is a requirement in any criminal trial. Criminal statutes have several elements, each of which must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Absent such evidence, a person cannot be convicted of a crime. The burden of proof­­–or rather, who is required to supply evidence proving that something is true–falls upon the prosecution in criminal cases.

Proof is also a requirement in civil trials, though the standard proof needs to meet is not “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Instead, the standard of proof is by a preponderance of the evidence, which means it must be more likely than not that something happened. Generally, plaintiffs have the burden of proof and must supply evidence that the claims they allege are accurate, though sometimes the burden of proof switches to defendants.

[Last updated in August of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]