What Is The Burden Of Proof In A Criminal Case?
– JM, Texas
The burden of proof in a criminal case is “beyond a reasonable doubt.” There is no formal definition of beyond a reasonable. In general, there are levels of proof in trials. In a civil case the burden is preponderance of the evidence. This means anything amount over half.
The next level is “clear and convincing.” This is the burden in cases to terminate parental rights. This burden is higher because only money is at stake in civil cases. The decision to terminate parental rights is higher because of the value we place on our families.
The highest level is beyond a reasonable doubt because we are talking about someone going to jail or prison.
Beyond a reasonable doubt is something less than one hundred percent but high enough that there is no hesitation in reaching a decision. This does not mean the jury cannot spend time, but when they do reach a decision they must be sure of their decision.
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