Legal Definition of rebuttable presumption
- Usually, every element of a case must be proven to a judge or a jury. The exception is a "presumption", which means that if certain other facts are proven, then another fact can be taken for granted by the judge (or jury). For example, in some states, an adult caught having intercourse with a minor is presumed as having known that the minor was under-age. Most presumptions are "rebuttable", which means that the person against whom the presumption applies may present evidence to the contrary, which then has the effect of nullifying the presumption. This then deprives the person that tried to use the presumption with the advantage of the "free" evidence and makes him present evidence to support the fact which might have been proven by the presumption.
Definition of rebuttable presumption
Both in common law and in civil law, a rebuttable presumption (in Latin, praesumptio iuris tantum) is an assumption made by a court, one that is taken to be true unless someone comes forward to contest it and prove otherwise. A rebuttable presumption is often associated with prima facie evidence.
Rebuttable presumptions in criminal law are somewhat controversial in that they do effectively reverse the presumption of innocence in some cases. For example, in the United Kingdom, Section 75 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 makes the rebuttable presumption that a person who is unconscious or asleep cannot consent to sexual activity.
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