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Proof

The establishment of a fact by the use of evidence. Anything that can make a person believe that a fact or proposition is true or false. It is distinguishable from evidence in that proof is a broad term comprehending everything that may be adduced at a trial, whereas evidence is a narrow term describing certain types of proof that can be admitted at trial.

The phrase burden of proof includes two distinct concepts, the Burden of Persuasion and the Burden of Going Forward. The burden of persuasion is the duty of a party to convince the trier of fact of all the elements of a Cause of Action. The burden of going forward refers to the need of a party to refute evidence introduced at trial that damages or discredits his or her position in the action. The burden of persuasion remains with the plaintiff or prosecutor throughout the action, whereas the burden of going forward can shift between the parties during the trial.

In a civil action, the requisite degree of proof is a preponderance of the evidence.The plaintiff must show that more probably than not the defendant violated his or her rights. In a criminal action, the prosecutor has the burden of establishing guilt Beyond a Reasonable Doubt.

Cross-references

Preponderance of Evidence.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

proof

n. confirmation of a fact by evidence. In a court trial proof is what the trier of the fact (jury or judge without a jury) needs to become satisfied the evidence shows by "a preponderance of the evidence" in civil (non-criminal) cases and "beyond a reasonable doubt" in criminal prosecutions. However, each alleged fact must be proved separately, as must all the facts necessary to reach a judgment for the plaintiff (the person filing a lawsuit) or for the prosecution (the "people" or "state" represented by the prosecutor). The defendants in both civil suits and criminal trials need not provide absolute "proof" of non-responsibility (in a civil case) or innocence in a criminal case, since the burden is on the plaintiff or prosecution to prove their cases (or prove the person guilty). (See: preponderance of the evidence, beyond a reasonable doubt)

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.

PROOF, practice. The conviction or persuasion of the mind of a judge or jury, by the exhibition of evidence, of the reality of a fact alleged: as, to prove, is to determine or persuade that a thing does or does not exist. 8 Toull. n. 2; Ayl. Parerg. 442; 2 Phil. Ev. 44, n, a. Proof is the perfection of evidence, for without evidence there is no proof, although, there may be evidence which does not amount to proof: for example, a man is found murdered at a spot where another had been seen walking but a short time before, this fact would be evidence to show that the latter was the murderer, but, standing alone, would be very far from proof of it.
     2. Ayliffe defines judicial proof to be a clear and evident declaration or demonstration, of a matter which was before doubtful, conveyed in a judicial manner by fit and proper arguments, and likewise by all other legal methods; first, by proper arguments, such as conjectures, presumptions, indicia, and other adminicular ways and means; and, secondly, by legal method, or methods according to law, such as witnesses, public instruments, end the like. Parerg. 442 Aso. & Man. Inst. B. 3, t. 7.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
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