Evidential and legal burden of proof in civil and criminal trials

Document Type:Essay

Subject Area:Law

Document 1

The information consists of facts and interferences; it is created to prove or disprove issues of the dispute and what the hearing must decide. The main issue for a litigation lawyer is to present in order to influence the decision of the judge. In civil and criminal cases evidence is accepted if i. it is relevant ii. It is reliable. STANDARD BURDEN OF PROOF: a. Civil cases: The plaintiff has to prove his case on the balance of convenience. The plaintiff has to prove facts in order to defend his/her allegation. For example, if A sues B for breach a contract, A has to prove three things: a. Existence of the contract, b. In criminal trials, the accused has some procedural right that can protect him/her from self-incrimination and unfair incrimination.

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The Right to remain silent In criminal cases the accused has the right to stay silent. The accused has the right to not answer questions at pre-trial stage and during the investigation. However, in the case of Heaney vs. Ireland (1996)5 some circumstances in which this right is not absolute were laid off, where; i. DPP [1935] 469, the accused admitted killing his wife but declared that the gun shot accidentally. The trial judge held once the prosecution had proved that the accused had killed his wife, the burden of proof shifted to the accused to show that it was accidental i. e. to prove his defence. The House of Lords held that this was incorrect. In this case the defendant (the parents of the child) has to prove that the children receive elementary education with private teacher or tutor than by attending school.

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In DPP v Best14 the burden of proof shifted on grounds that the main issue was to protect the kid’s right to receive the minimum level of education Section 18 and 19 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1984 (an Amendment) In Rock v. Ireland, 15 the accused had been discovered by Gardaí in a toilet cubicle next to a bag stuffed with forged bank notes. The Supreme Court applied section. 18 – 19 of the Criminal Justice Act 1984 and held that it does not compel the trial judge to direct the jury that they may or may not draw such inferences as appear “proper”. The third exception of Woolmington’s principle is the peculiar knowledge principle. The burden of proof may shift from the public prosecution to the defendant.

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In the Minister for Industry and Commerce v. Steele20 the prosecution failed to prove one element, which is critical to proof of the offence, namely the composition of pork in the meat used in the sausages. The Supreme Court applied the peculiar principle rule which requires that the accused had to prove that not less than 65 per cent of the meat in the sausages was pork, with the effect that his failure to adduce evidence upon the issue entitled the court to draw an inference against him and in the circumstances of the case to find his guilt proved21. However there are some circumstances in which the burden of proof can shift to the accused, for instance, in case of insanity, drugs, and children non-attendance.

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