Every party who files a legal action will need to meet a burden of proof. This burden is an obligation to show sufficient evidence that supports the allegations in the case. Several different standards exist in modern, American jurisprudence. The type of standard employed in any given case largely depends on what the case is about. It may also depend on which court or tribunal is hearing the case. When it comes to DUI cases there are two different burdens of proof, and persuasion, that apply at separate stages in the proceeding.
In any criminal case the prosecution must prove the elements of the crime beyond a “reasonable doubt.” This is one of the highest standards in the American court system. Essentially, this means that the trier of fact must be totally convinced of the defendant’s guilt. The judge or jury must not be able to conceive any reasonable uncertainty regarding guilt. The state carries this burden throughout its case in chief.
Most states require a unanimous jury verdict to convict a defendant. In this sense, the prosecution’s burden of proof is met if they can convince every juror to vote in favor of conviction. Illinois follows the majority of states in requiring unanimous verdicts in criminal cases. However, the constitution does not require unanimity as decided in 1972 by the United States Supreme Court.
Criminal defendants do not carry a burden of proof at trial. This is due to the presumption of innocence. It is the prosecutor’s job to overcome this presumption. A defendant does not have to testify, produce evidence, or proffer witnesses. The defendant is free to remain silent during the entire proceeding without any bias. Furthermore, the defense may cross-examine witnesses and attack the prosecution’s evidence without undertaking a burden. It is possible for the defense to win a case simply by negating the prosecution’s evidence as it relates to the elements of a DUI charge.
Although the defendant is not initially assigned a burden one could arise under certain circumstances. This usually occurs when the defendant decides to use an affirmative defense. For example, if the defendant responds to a DUI charge by asserting the defense of insanity he or she will carry the burden of proof. In such a situation, the defendant will have to prove his or her insanity by clear and convincing evidence. Yet, the state retains the overall burden of persuasion under the standard of beyond a reasonable doubt.
The standard of clear and convincing evidence is usually found in civil cases. However, it does have some application in criminal matters as with the insanity defense. This standard is somewhat of a middle ground between the lower civil burden of a “preponderance of the evidence” and the more difficult reasonable doubt standard. It requires the defendant to show that the assertion is more likely true than not. The jury must accept the defendant’s defense with a firm conviction. It is distinguishable from the preponderance standard in that it must be more than just 51% likely. The defendant can use both direct and circumstantial evidence to prove the defense.
The standard of proof in DMV hearings differs greatly from that in criminal courts. This is because the DMV is an administrative agency and not a court. Due to the fact that driving is a privilege and not a right the DMV does not have to employ the reasonable doubt standard. Instead, DMV officers will review the decision to impose a license suspension or revocation under the preponderance standard. This means they can take action against your license if they find it more likely than not that you committed a DUI offense.
The DMV will carry the burden to prove certain elements by the preponderance of the evidence standard. Proof will be submitted to show there was reasonable suspicion for the stop, a lawful arrest, advisements regarding chemical test refusals, and that the driver had a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) at or above the legal limit. The defendant can present evidence or witnesses to controvert the evidence. A defendant may also bring an attorney to the hearing.
Due to the lower standard of proof it can be easier for DMV to win than a state prosecutor in criminal court. The DMV may also find a defendant guilty despite what occurred in the criminal court. Conversely, winning a DMV hearing will not have an effect on the outcome in the criminal proceeding.
The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. Learn more about DUI by reading this wikipedia page.