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As a Colorado resident, it’s important to understand the basic criminal laws, rules, and regulations that dictate what you can and can’t do within the state. As one of the most important concepts in Colorado criminal law, you should become familiar with the phrase “beyond a reasonable doubt.” This concept refers to a rule known as “burden of proof” in Colorado criminal cases.

If you’re charged with any type of crime, ranging from shoplifting to assault to drug trafficking, the prosecution must be able to fulfill the burden of proof – meaning prove that you are guilty of the crime – beyond a reasonable doubt. When you’re faced with criminal charges in Colorado, a skilled Denver criminal defense lawyer can help protect your legal rights by ensuring that the prosecution doesn’t cut corners when it comes to the burden of proof.

What is the burden of proof in a criminal case?

The Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute defines the burden of proof in a criminal case as follows:

“Generally, describes the standard that a party seeking to prove a fact in court must satisfy to have that fact legally established. There are different standards in different circumstances. For example, in criminal cases, the burden of proving the defendant’s guilt is on the prosecution, and they must establish that fact beyond a reasonable doubt.”

What exactly does “beyond a reasonable doubt” mean? “Burden of proof” and “beyond a reasonable doubt” go together hand in hand in a Colorado criminal case. Beyond a reasonable doubt is the highest standard of proof required to result in a conviction in a criminal case. The prosecution must prove that you’re guilty beyond all reasonable doubt. They’ll attempt to do this by convincing the jury that there’s no other explanation for the crime.

Who has the burden of proof in a criminal case? The burden of proof is on the prosecution. The pressure is on them to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you committed a crime. With this in mind, your Denver criminal attorney will work to implement a strategy designed to poke holes in the prosecution’s approach, improving the likelihood of avoiding a conviction.

Other burdens of proof that could come into play in a criminal case

In criminal cases, there are times when other burdens of proof come into play. These include:

  • Reasonable suspicion: A police officer must have reasonable suspicion that you’ve violated the law in order to stop you. They can’t act on a simple gut feeling. The suspicion must be backed up by facts. 
  • Reasonable to believe: A police officer has the legal authority to search a vehicle again if they have reason to believe that there is evidence of a crime. This level of proof sits between that of reasonable suspicion and probable cause. 
  • Probable cause: In simple terms, this means there is a fair probability that a police officer will find evidence that a crime was committed. 
  • Clear and convincing evidence: Clear and convincing evidence means that the evidence is highly and substantially more likely to be true than untrue. 

As you can see, there’s a lot of gray area associated with these other types of burdens of proof. That’s why it’s so important to work with an experienced Denver criminal defense attorney who can use those gray areas to your advantage in a Colorado criminal case.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the criminal burden of proof in Colorado

consultation with defense attorney discussing the criminal burden of proof
Your Denver criminal defense attorney can review the details of your criminal charges and explain how the burden of proof will apply to your case.


When it comes to the burden of proof in a Colorado criminal case, many questions are sure to come to mind. Here are some of the most common questions that your defense attorney can answer in detail:

  • What happens if the prosecution is unable to show beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime was committed?
  • What’s the best defense strategy for your particular criminal charges?
  • Is it possible for law enforcement to fabricate a story to strengthen their case, such as stating that they had reasonable suspicion to stop a vehicle?
  • Do you need to hire a criminal defense attorney to represent you in court?
  • What is the presumption of innocence?

It’s these types of questions, among others, that you want to answer as you prepare for your criminal case. With the help of a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney, you’re never in the dark. They can answer your questions and devise a defense strategy that puts you in the best possible light.

Our Denver criminal attorney can enforce the burden of proof to help protect you against conviction

At the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC, our Denver criminal defense attorney has over a decade of experience helping good people through tough times, by enforcing the burden of proof in Colorado criminal cases. We’ll work to find the holes in the prosecution’s case and implement a strong legal strategy to help protect against a conviction. If you’ve been charged with any type of crime in Colorado, don’t hesitate to contact us online or give us a call to schedule a free consultation. 


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