Standards Of Proof

Standards of Proof in the United States

Level of persuasion that must be met by evidence offered in a legal dispute. Standards of Proof (Criminal Process) vary depending on the nature of the dispute. Standards of Proof (Criminal Process) define the burden that must be carried to demonstrate affirmatively a fact at issue in a case. In a criminal case, the trier of fact must be satisfied or persuaded beyond a reasonable doubt. Proof beyond a reasonable doubt is conclusive enough to remove all reasonable uncertainty. Occasionally the term moral certainty is used for reasonable doubt. No proceeding utilizes a more stringent standard than reasonable doubt; absolute certainty is not required for resolving any class of dispute. In most civil matters, a party is required only to meet the preponderance of evidence standard. This requires that one party offer evidence that is more persuasive or convincing than the other party. Put another way, the standard demands proof that convinces the fact-finder that one party’s representation of “fact” is more plausible than the other party’s. A level of evidence located between preponderance and reasonable doubt is reflected in the “clear and convincing” standard. Clear and convincing establishes a firm belief in the mind of the fact-finder. This standard is applied to certain classes of civil cases.

See Also

Preponderance of Evidence (Criminal Process) Reasonable Doubt (Criminal Process).

Analysis and Relevance

Standards of Proof define the level of certainty needed to prevail in particular kinds of fact disputes. The standards address the issue of burden of proof. Burden of proof, in turn, defines the obligation of a party to create sufficient belief in the mind of the fact-finder to resolve the dispute legally. The Standards of Proof (U.S.) define how extensive the burden of proof will be. The burden of proof is substantially greater in a criminal case than a civil case because only in the former must one party, the prosecution, convince the trier of fact beyond a reasonable doubt.

Notes and References

  1. Definition of Standards of Proof from the American Law Dictionary, 1991, California

Standards Of Proof: Open and Free Legal Research of US Law

Federal Primary Materials

The U.S. federal government system consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches, each of which creates information that can be the subject of legal research about Standards Of Proof. This part provides references, in relation to Standards Of Proof, to the legislative process, the federal judiciary, and the primary sources of federal law (cases, statutes, and regulations).

Federal primary materials about Standards Of Proof by content types:

Laws and Regulations

US Constitution
Federal Statutory Codes and Legislation

Federal Case Law and Court Materials

U.S. Courts of Appeals
United States courts of appeals, inclouding bankruptcy courts and bankcruptcy appellate panels:

Federal Administrative Materials and Resources

Presidential Materials

Materials that emanate from the President’s lawmaking function include executive orders for officers in departments and agencies and proclamations for announcing ceremonial or commemorative policies. Presidential materials available include:

Executive Materials

Federal Legislative History Materials

Legislative history traces the legislative process of a particular bill (about Standards Of Proof and other subjects) for the main purpose of determining the legislators’ intent behind the enactment of a law to explain or clarify ambiguities in the language or the perceived meaning of that law (about Standards Of Proof or other topics), or locating the current status of a bill and monitoring its progress.

State Administrative Materials and Resources

State regulations are rules and procedures promulgated by state agencies (which may apply to Standards Of Proof and other topics); they are a binding source of law. In addition to promulgating regulations, state administrative boards and agencies often have judicial or quasi-judicial authority and may issue administrative decisions affecting Standards Of Proof. Finding these decisions can be challenging. In many cases, researchers about Standards Of Proof should check state agency web sites for their regulations, decisions, forms, and other information of interest.

State rules and regulations are found in codes of regulations and administrative codes (official compilation of all rules and regulations, organized by subject matter). Search here:

State opinions of the Attorney General (official written advisory opinions on issues of state law related to Standards Of Proof when formerly requested by a designated government officer):

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Law in Other Regions

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