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Question of fact

In law, a question of fact (also known as a point of fact) is a question which must be answered by reference to facts and evidence, and inferences arising from those facts. Such a question is distinct from a question of law, which must be answered by applying relevant legal principles. The answer to a question of fact (a "finding of fact") is usually dependent on particular circumstances or factual situations.

To illustrate the difference:

  • Question of fact: Did Mr. and Mrs. Jones leave their 10 year-old child home alone with their baby for 4 days?
  • Question of law: Does leaving a baby with a 10-year old child for 4 days fit the legal definition of child neglect?

All questions of fact are capable of proof or disproof, by reference to a certain standard of proof. Depending on the nature of the matter, the standard of proof may require that a fact be proven to be "more likely than not", that is there is barely more evidence for the fact than against, as established by a preponderance of the evidence; or true beyond reasonable doubt.

Answers to questions of fact are determined by a trier of fact, such as a jury, or a judge. In many jurisdictions, such as the United States, appellate courts generally do not consider appeals based on errors of fact (errors in answering a question of fact). Rather, the findings of fact of the first venue are usually given great deference by appellate courts.

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