Differing standards of proof: More evidence is needed to find the accused at fault in criminal cases than to find the defendant at fault in civil ones. To convict someone of a crime, the prosecution must show there is proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the person committed the crime and, in most cases, that they intended to commit it. Judges and juries cannot convict someone they believe probably committed the crime or likely is guilty - they must be almost certain. This gives the accused the benefit of any reasonable doubt and makes it less likely an innocent person will be wrongfully convicted and imprisoned. Civil cases, in contrast, must be proven on a balance of probabilities - if it is more likely than not that the defendant caused harm or loss, a court can uphold a civil claim.
Today’s question: “What happens if you are arrested and charged with driving under the influence of drugs? Let’s say prescription drugs. What does the prosecutor have to prove to obtain a conviction?” This question comes to me more frequently today than ever before, probably because more and more people who are taking medications prescribed by their doctor seemingly intersect with police officers who insist that they are operating a motor vehicle while impaired. So here goes – let’s start with the basics.