proof vs evidence

What’s the difference between evidence and proof?

August 31, 2021 12:50 pm Published by 3 Comments

In everyday speech, the terms “evidence” and “proof” are frequently used interchangeably in casual speech. There is, however, a distinction to be made between evidence and proof. Evidence is data or facts that assist us in determining the reality or existence of something. A total collection of evidence can prove a claim. Proof is a conclusion that a certain fact is true or not. In the case of a court of law, it is up to a judge or a jury to decide whether an assertion has been proven or not, based on the evidence presented.  What's the difference between evidence and proof in New Hampshire Law?

Evidence

Evidence is unprocessed pieces of data, material, or information. In the legal context, it is typically gathered and presented  by one party to a case in an attempt to either prove or disprove a certain legal conclusion.

“Proved.” — A statement is said to be established when the Court, after examining the evidence, either thinks it exists or feels its existence is so likely that a reasonable person would act on the premise that it exists given the circumstances of the case.

“Disproved.” — A claim is said to be disproved when, after examining the evidence, the Court either believes it does not exist or feels its non-existence is so likely that a reasonable person would act on the assumption that it does not exist given the circumstances of the case.

“It has not been proven.” When an assertion is neither confirmed nor denied, it is said to be unproven.

For example, when trying to solve a murder or theft case, the police are continuously seeking evidence to present to the jury. The facts gathered by the police and prosecutor and presented convincingly by the attorney in a law court constitute the foundation for the jury’s decision. Prosecutors frequently utilize fingerprints, films, voice samples, clothing, and other materials and things used by the accused as evidence to support their allegations and statements. Evidence itself is not absolute proof, but helps lead and direct the jury to a decision.

In most cases, a jury must make do with the evidence and facts provided to them. Often no one piece of evidence is itself sufficient to prove that a crime did or did not occur. 

Evidence can take various forms, including digital, physical, scientific, detailed, and so forth. Prosecutors utilize this evidence to show their client’s guilt or innocence in a court of law.

Proof

People will demand proof if you claim anything new or innovative. To take an age-old philosophical example, atheists ask – what is the evidence for believing in God’s existence? We believe in objects and concepts that we can detect with our senses or supported by a body of knowledge derived from thousands of years of experience and research. A definitive assertion concerning the truth or reality is known as proof. Prosecutors a must utilize evidence to establish that an accused has committed a crime before a jury. 

A simple example is if a person’s fingerprints are on a glass. The fingerprints are evidence. The conclusion that that the person touched the glass, is proof. 

The evidence provided by either of the parties present during the trial must be firmly and considerably more probable than not to be accurate. The trier of fact must have a solid belief or conviction in its factuality. In civil cases the standard for whether evidence has led to proof of a assertion is whether that assertion is more likely than not. In criminal cases, on the other hand, for evidence to amount to proof of guilt, it must amount to beyond a reasonable doubt. Difference between proof and evidence:

  • A fact that indicates that a claim is genuine is known as proof. The proof is a definitive judgment that eliminates all  legal question, whereas evidence simply points to a claim or assertion.
  • Evidence is data that leads to the conclusion that something is genuine or authentic. For example, police officers offer evidence to show an accused person’s guilt (DNA), physical (clothing or sperm), or circumstantial evidence.
  • Before establishing a claim, each inventor must substantiate their innovation.
  • You can use various items to establish your identity, including your driver’s license, voter’s card, and utility bills.
  • The proof is complete and irrefutable. The evidence is speculative.
  • A fingerprint can prove someone’s guilt on a pistol. If the murder suspect also has a motivation and an opportunity to do the crime, that adds to the evidence. The investigators will have proof of his guilt if they can gather enough evidence.

Do you have questions about criminal law? Get in touch with our New Hampshire criminal defense attorney team to learn more about your options and how we can help.

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This post was written by Cohen and Winters

3 Comments

  • Seamus Browne says:

    “Proof is a conclusion that a certain fact is true or not.”

    Facts are hypotheses or allegations that have already been proven or are so blatantly obvious that they need no proof.
    A fact is always true, by definition.

    • Cohen & Winters says:

      Your point is well taken and our language was not as precise as it should have been. We have edited to say, “Proof is a conclusion that a certain assertion is true or not”. Edited other portions of the article to substitute “assertion” for “fact”.

  • Martin says:

    Thank you for the succinct explanation. The conceptual distinction between evidence and proof applies also outside of the law and extends to any sphere of knowledge – science, philosophy, politics and social studies for example – where arguments, deductions and conclusions are proposed but which must first be logically analysed and evaluated before being accepted as ‘proof’.

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