Burden of Proof vs. Burden of Evidence

DEFINITIONS

     By burden of proof is meant the obligation imposed upon a party who alleges the existence of a fact or thing necessary in the prosecution or defense of an action to establish it by proof.  Under the Rules, it is the duty of a party to present evidence on the facts in issue necessary to establish his claim or defense by the amount of evidence required by law.  It means the burden of establishing a case, whether by a preponderance of the evidence, or beyond a reasonable doubt, or by substantial evidence.

     On the other hand, burden of evidence connotes the burden of going forward with the evidence or that logical necessity which rests on a party at any particular time during the trial to create a prima facie case in his favor, or to overthrow one when created against him.

DISTINCTIONS

     The main distinction between burden of proof and burden of evidence is that burden of proof never shifts.  This remains throughout the entire case exactly where the pleadings originally placed it.  The party whether plaintiff or defendant, who substantially asserts the affirmative of the issue has this burden of proof.  It is on him at the beginning of the case; it continues on him through the case; and when the evidence, by whomsoever introduced,  is all in if he has not, by preponderance of evidence (or proof beyond reasonable doubt), established his proposition or claim, the decision of a tribunal must be adverse to such pleader.

     Burden of evidence on the other hand shifts to one party when the other has produced sufficient evidence to be entitled as a matter of law to a ruling in his favor.  It has no necessary connection with the pleadings, but is determined by the progress of the trial.

WHO HAS THE BURDEN OF PROOF?

     Ordinarily, the burden of proof lies in the first instance with the party who initiated the action or proceeding, that is, the plaintiff.  In other words, a plaintiff, by asserting in his complaint, petition, or declaration facts which, if proved, establish a liability due him on the part of defendant, has the burden of proving these facts.  But there is no strict and rigid rule that the primary burden of proof is on the party who brings suit; rather, this is generally speaking, taken for granted because of expediency and inherent justice, and not because of initiative action. 

     Where the defendant, either in positive and express terms or by the character and nature of his pleadings, admits the cause of action alleged by the plaintiff, he thereby absolved the plaintiff from the necessity of making any proof in support of his claim; in such case the burden of proof rests with the defendant, and rest with him until the issue is met.