Can you explain the difference between the burden of proof needed at criminal trials vs civil trials?
The evidence that is needed in a criminal trial is much greater than what is required in a civil trial.
CRIMINAL-In a criminal case, the state's attorney must prove the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If after hearing all the evidence of the case, the jury is not convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant has committed the crime he/she is accused of, they cannot convict. This is a much higher burden of proof standard than is needed in a civil case because the rights, freedom, life and reputation of the defendant are at stake.
CIVIL-On the other hand, in a civil case, the plaintiff's attorney must prove up the case against the defendant by a preponderance of the evidence. If the evidence shown to the jury proves that the defendant is 51% or more negligent (imagine a scale of justice with the tipping of the scale by the weight of a feather), the jury must find against the defendant.