Volume 8 (2010)
Volume 3 (2005)
Most Downloaded Articles
- Comparative Observations on the Burden of Proof for Criminal Defences by Ho, Hock Lai
- Litigating Sex Crimes in the United States: Has the Last Decade Made Any Difference? by Raeder, Myrna S.
- Boxes in Boxes: Julian Barnes, Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes and the Edalji Case by Risinger, D. Michael
- From Liberal Extremity to Safe Mainstream? The Comparative Controversies of Witness Preparation in the United States by Vasiliev, Sergey V.
- Scientific Evidence in Europe -- Admissibility, Evaluation and Equality of Arms by Champod, Christophe and Vuille, Joëlle
Comparative Observations on the Burden of Proof for Criminal Defences
1National University of Singapore
Citation Information: International Commentary on Evidence. Volume 9, Issue 2, ISSN (Online) 1554-4567, DOI: 10.2202/1554-4567.1119, January 2012
- Published Online:
This essay analyses the decisions of the United States Supreme Court on the allocation of the burden of proof in relation to criminal defences. The Court seems generally comfortable about letting the accused carry the persuasive burden of proving excuses and justifications. It is seemingly different in those other common law countries where the so-called golden thread proclaimed by the House of Lords in Woolmington v DPP holds sway, and where it is accepted as a general rule that the prosecution must disprove beyond reasonable doubt any defence that has been put in issue. This essay explores and tries to explain this difference. The divergence is explicable as a matter of legal history, but at the bottom of it are arguably a conceptual dispute on the offence-defence distinction and competing visions of politics that bear on the theory of the criminal trial.