RunSensible’s Legal Dictionary

Your Guide to Clear and Concise Legal Definitions

Legal Dictionary


The term fact can be used in several senses in the law. First, it can refer to a thing or event that can be demonstrated, as opposed to an opinion. Second, it can be used to contrast the law. The latter distinction is important because, in general, facts are determined by the jury, whereas the court determines questions of law.

In legal terms, a “fact” refers to a statement or assertion that can be objectively proven to be true or false. Facts are the building blocks of legal cases and are crucial in determining legal outcomes. Unlike opinions, beliefs, or interpretations, facts are verifiable and are based on evidence presented in a case.

For example, in a criminal trial, facts may include details about the time, place, and manner in which a crime allegedly occurred. In a civil case, facts may relate to the events that led to a dispute between parties. These facts are typically presented through witnesses, documents, or other forms of evidence.

In legal proceedings, there is often a distinction between “questions of fact” and “questions of law.” Questions of fact involve determining what happened in a specific situation, while questions of law involve interpreting and applying the relevant legal principles to the facts of the case. This separation helps ensure a fair and efficient legal process. The idea is that judges, being legal experts, are better suited to interpret and apply the law, while juries, representing the community, are better suited to determine the factual aspects of a case. This division of responsibilities is a crucial feature of the adversarial legal system in many jurisdictions.

Ultimately, the resolution of a legal case depends on the court’s analysis of both the applicable law and the established facts. The process of developing and presenting facts in a legal setting is known as the fact-finding process.

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