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4 PJI 13.1 | Third Circuit (US)
HB-PJI-CA03-04S1301 Download

4 PJI 13.1 | SECTION 1983 – BURDENS OF PROOF IN CIVIL AND CRIMINAL CASES

As you know, [plaintiff’s] claims in this case relate to [his/her] [arrest] [prosecution] for the crime of [describe crime].

[At various points in a criminal case,] the government must meet certain requirements in order to [stop, arrest, and ultimately] convict a person for a crime. It is important to distinguish between those requirements and the requirements of proof in this civil case.

[In order to “stop” a person, a police officer must have a “reasonable suspicion” that the person they stop has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a crime. There must be specific facts that, taken together with the rational inferences from those facts, reasonably warrant the stop.]

[In order to arrest a person, the police must have probable cause to believe the person committed a crime. Probable cause requires more than mere suspicion; however, it does not require that the officer have evidence sufficient to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The standard of probable cause represents a balance between the individual’s right to liberty and the government’s duty to control crime. Because police officers often confront ambiguous situations, room must be allowed for some mistakes on their part. But the mistakes must be those of reasonable officers.]

In order for a jury to convict a person of a crime, the government must prove the person’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Proof beyond a reasonable doubt is proof that leaves the jury firmly convinced of the defendant's guilt. If a jury in a criminal case thinks there is a real possibility that the defendant is not guilty, the jury must give the defendant the benefit of the doubt and find [him/her] not guilty.

[Thus, the fact that the jury found [plaintiff] not guilty in the criminal trial does not necessarily indicate that the jury in the criminal trial found [plaintiff] innocent; it indicates only that the government failed to prove [plaintiff] guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.]

[The existence of probable cause to make an arrest is evaluated in light of the facts and circumstances available to the police officer at the time. And probable cause is a less demanding standard than guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Thus, the fact that the jury found [plaintiff] not guilty in the criminal trial does not indicate whether or not the police had probable cause to arrest [plaintiff].]

[Unlike the prior criminal trial, this is a civil case. [Plaintiff] has the burden of proving [his/her] case by the preponderance of the evidence. That means [plaintiff] has to prove to you, in light of all the evidence, that what [he/she] claims is more likely so than not so. In other words, if you were to put the evidence favorable to [plaintiff] and the evidence favorable to [defendant] on opposite sides of the scales, [plaintiff] would have to make the scales tip somewhat on [his/her] side. If [plaintiff] fails to meet this burden, the verdict must be for [defendant]. Notice that the preponderance-of-the-evidence standard, which [plaintiff] must meet in this case, is not as hard to meet as the beyond-a-reasonable-doubt standard, which the government must meet in a criminal case.]

COMMENT When this instruction is given, the last sentence of General Instruction 1.10 should be omitted.
(Last Updated July 2019)

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