You overhear two people talking.

**Person A:** There's a giant muffin deep in the earth's core.

**Person B:** That sounds ridiculous. How can you prove it?

**Person A: **It's not my job to prove it right, you have to prove it wrong.

**Person B: **But we've never observed the earth's core, so how can I prove that wrong? You need to prove that your idea is right.

**Person A: **It is your job to prove me wrong. I don't have to prove anything to you.

The two people leave and you are left confused.

Is it **Person A's** job to prove that **there is**a muffin in the earth's core?

## Or

Is it **Person B's **job to prove that **there is not**a muffin in the earth's core?

This question of who is responsible for providing proof is central to the difference between *innocent until proven guilty* and *guilty until proven innocent*.

## The Burden Of Proof

The burden of proof is a concept that asks,

## 'Whose job is it to prove something?'

Scenario 1:

**Person A: **We should raise the minimum wage. It will help the economy.

**Person B: **We should not raise the minimum wage. It will hurt the economy.

If we wanted to know the truth, we would want **both Person A and Person B to prove their claims**. And then we would judge the proofs to determine the best one. Here, the burden of proof rests with both people.

Scenario 2:

**Person A: **Cats are the best pets.

**Person B: **I don't think that's true. Can you prove that cats are the best?

**Person A: **I don't have to. You have to prove why cats aren't best.

**Person B: **No I don't. You need to prove that cats are the best.

In this case, **the burden of proof rests with Person A**. They made the claim that cats are the best pets to have. They have to prove that idea. Person B doesn't have to prove that cats aren't the best.

#### Quiz

In the 'Muffin in the Earth's Core' discussion, where does the burden of proof fall?

Neither has the burden of proof

Person B has the burden of proof

Both people have the burden of proof

Person A has the burden of proof

## What's The Difference?

## 'What's the difference between the two examples in the previous section?'

The difference is whether someone is **making a claim**or **rejecting a claim**.

If you

**make a claim, you must**provide proof.

If you

**reject a claim, you don't need**to provide proof.

### Can I just reject everything and not worry?

Nope! If someone provides a proof, the burden shifts to you. Now you have to show **why the proof is wrong**. Then the other person must show why your criticisms of their proof are not good.

## A Crime Is Committed...

The police have a suspect who denies committing the crime. The case goes to trial.

The **defense lawyer** tries to prove that **the suspect did not commit the crime.**

The **prosecution** tries to prove that **the suspect did commit the crime.**

### Innocent until proven guilty:

In this case, the burden of proof rests with the prosecution.

We start by saying, 'This person is innocent.' This is our initial assumption. And the prosecution

**must prove that the person is guilty.**

The defense will show

**why the prosecutor's proof is wrong.**

### Guilty until proven innocent:

In this case, the burden of proof rests with the defense.

We start by saying, 'This person is guilty.' This is our initial assumption. And the defense

**must prove that the person is innocent.**

The prosecutor will try to show

**why the defense's proof is wrong.**

## Burden Of Proof And The Law

In most legal systems, the view is that someone is **innocent until proven guilty.**

This means that when the lawyers get to court, the burden of proof is first with the prosecutor. They must prove **why the suspect is guilty**. It is the defense's job to how why the prosecutor has failed to prove that the suspect is guilty.

## Summary

The difference between:

"Innocent until proven guilty" and "Guilty until proven innocent"

Is a matter of **'Who has the burden of proof?'**

In cases where we assume, 'Innocent until proven guilty':

We assume the suspect is innocent.

The burden of proof rests with the prosecution to

**prove that the suspect is guilty.**The defense must show

**why this proof is not good enough.**

In cases where we assume, 'Guilty until proven innocent':

We assume that the suspect is guilty.

The burden of proof rests with the defense to

**prove that the suspect is innocent**The prosecution must show

**why this proof is not good enough**.

The whole difference revolves around the question, **'Whose job is it to prove their point?'**

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## This Byte has been authored by

### Alex Venis

Post Secondary Educator, E learning specialist