There are many parts of a good legal case. One of these parts is a concept called the burden of proof. The burden of proof is the requirement to show evidence and prove a case. Not all burdens are created equal. Sometimes the law requires a party to bring more proof in order to make its case. The more severe the case, the higher level of proof needed to win in Court. There are three general standards of burden of proof.
Preponderance of the evidence
A preponderance of the evidence is when a jury or judge is “generally convinced” of a claim. A common way of describing this is that the trier of fact is 51% certain, or is more convinced than not. A preponderance of the evidence is the standard burden of proof for civil law. This generally, but not always, includes family law cases, personal injury law cases, and contract disputes.
Clear and convincing evidence
Clear and convincing evidence is often described as the middle burden. It is the gray area between a preponderance of the evidence and beyond a reasonable doubt (see below). Typically, the cases that require the middle burden are ones that touch upon an important right or liberty interest of a person. Therefore, they require more care from the courts when making a decision. While a claim needs to be proved more than a preponderance of evidence, the claim does not need to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. This is the highest form of evidence required in civil cases. Examples of cases involving clear and convincing evidence are cases removing children from the care of their parents (in Wisconsin these are often called CHIPS and JIPS cases) or cases that terminate a parent’s right to the children completely (TPR cases).
Beyond a reasonable doubt
Beyond a reasonable doubt is the highest standard. This standard means that evidence provided has been so extensive that all other alternatives can be eliminated. If the standard of preponderance of the evidence is a 51% sure standard, then beyond a reasonable doubt is 99.9999999% sure. The beyond a reasonable doubt standard is used to determine guilt or innocence of a criminal charge. It is used exclusively for criminal matters.
Discussing burden of proof with an attorney
When looking at your case, the difference between facing a burden of preponderance of the evidence and clear and convincing evidence may be the difference between winning and losing. An attorney with experience in cases similar to yours will know the required burden of proof. The attorney will help you form the right legal strategy. Working with an attorney you can trust is essential.
Shanley Law offers free initial consultations. At these consultation, we discuss the background of a case and the burden of proof required. To schedule this complimentary session with Attorney Devin Shanley, call 920-471-0929 today.
About Us: Attorney Devin Shanley is the approachable expert clients can trust. A native of Green Bay, Wisconsin, Devin has been developing legal solutions in his beloved hometown since 2012. Married to Mo and dad to two rambunctious kids, he has a soft spot for the Green Bay Packers, grilling out, and playing with his kids. His areas of practice are Estate Planning, Family Law, Business Law, and Non-Profit Organization Law. Schedule your free consultation by calling 920-471-4337.