Weight of Evidence Law and Legal Definition

Weight of evidence refers to the measure of credible proof on one side of a dispute as compared with the credible proof on the other. It is the probative evidence considered by a judge or jury during a trial. The weight of evidence is based on the believability or persuasiveness of evidence. Particular evidence has different weight in inducing belief with respect to the facts and circumstances to be proved. Evidence that is indefinite, vague, or improbable will be given less weight than evidence that is direct and not refuted.

In many states, judges are prohibited from instructing juries on the weight to be given to evidence. Some states allow the judge to give a balanced and fair assessment of the weight that s/he believes should be ascribed to the evidence. All jurisdictions prohibit the judge from instructing the jury on what weight is to be given to the testimony of any witness or class of witnesses. The judge may not state that any particular piece of admissible evidence is or is not entitled to receive weight or consideration from the jury.

When a verdict has been rendered against the weight of the evidence, the court may, on this ground, grant a new trial, but the courts exercise this power with caution.