3 Levels of Proof Used in a Criminal Case

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For a person to be convicted of a crime, a jury must find that there is proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the person is guilty. The "beyond a reasonable doubt" measure is one that almost everyone is familiar with, but there are other levels of proof that can be used in a criminal case.

Learn more about these levels of proof so that you will be better prepared to face any criminal charges levied against you in the future.

1. Clear and Convincing Evidence

Clear and convincing evidence is required in many domestic violence criminal cases. A defendant appealing a charge on the grounds of mental health issues will also be required to meet the requirements for clear and convincing evidence. This level of proof requires only that the court be convinced that the evidence being presented is true. Proving something beyond a reasonable doubt is much more difficult than providing clear and convincing evidence.

2. Preponderance of the Evidence

One approach that a defendant can use in a criminal case is an affirmative defense. An affirmative defense is a defense strategy in which the defendant introduces evidence that will negate any criminal liability in a given case. The level of proof that is associated with an affirmative defense is a preponderance of the evidence. Simply stated, a preponderance of the evidence means that there is a high possibility that the information presented is credible and true. If a defendant is able to meet the preponderance of the evidence standard via an affirmative defense, all criminal charges could be dismissed.

3. Reasonable Suspicion

No criminal case is valid in a court of law unless the reasonable suspicion level of proof is met. Reasonable suspicion is a burden of proof that law enforcement officials must meet before questioning or detaining an individual in connection with a crime. An officer can't bring someone in for questioning or hold them for an extended period of time based solely on a hunch or a feeling that the person may be involved in criminal activity. Police officers will be required to provide articulable and very specific facts that support their suspicions surrounding a specific individual. If reasonable suspicion cannot be established, all evidence, statements, and charges against a person are considered to be null.

A local criminal defense attorney can help you better understand how these levels of proof may affect your criminal case.