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Burdens of Proof and Evidentiary Standards

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Supporting your case with proof is a central part of all legal proceedings. Because of the importance of providing evidence, the California court system has outlined specific rules called burdens of proof and evidentiary standards that determine who is in charge of showing proof and what level of proof is necessary.

The Burden of Proof

The burden of proof determines which party needs to provide the evidence. The plaintiff is responsible for providing evidence in the majority of cases.

The plaintiff needs to show the court testimonies, documents, pictures, or objects, referred to as the burden of production. After the plaintiff has provided ample evidence, the burden of production moves to the defendant, who has the chance to bring forth their own evidence that either supports their argument or negates the plaintiff’s claims.

Evidentiary Standards in Civil Cases

Preponderance of the Evidence

The standards for evidence are different for civil cases and criminal cases. In civil cases, the standard of proof is the preponderance of the evidence. The preponderance of the evidence requires the plaintiff to provide evidence that shows the court their argument is more likely to be true than not. Some legal experts and scholars define the preponderance of evidence as the requirement that at least 51% of the evidence effectively supports the plaintiff’s argument.

Clear and Convincing Evidence

Some civil cases require a higher standard of evidence than the preponderance of evidence standard. The clear and convincing evidence standard requires the plaintiff to have evidence that is significantly more effective. The evidence must prove there is a high probability that your argument is true.

Substantial Evidence

Used mostly in administrative law proceedings, the substantial evidence standard requires the plaintiff to bring forth enough evidence so that any reasonable person would have enough solid information to believe the argument.

Evidentiary Standards in Criminal Cases

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

The standards for evidence in criminal cases are almost all significantly higher than in civil cases. The beyond a reasonable doubt standard is one of the most commonly known evidentiary standards. It is the highest standard and is the norm for most criminal cases. The beyond a reasonable doubt standard requires the evidence to show that there is no explanation other than the plaintiff’s argument.

Probable Cause

The probable cause standard more directly applies to police officers, judges, and other legal figures. Before searching a location or seizing goods, the probable cause standard requires officers and judges to be able to prove that all of the information they have makes it likely that they will find evidence of a crime.

Reasonable Belief and Reasonable Suspicion

Another standard that applies to police officers, the reasonable belief and reasonable suspicion standards dictate that the police acted on reasonable conclusions. Any action that an officer takes without explicit permission must be logical.

Credible Evidence

Credible evidence in a criminal proceeding does not require evidence to be true, but that it must be sufficiently relevant for the jury to consider it. Some legal experts and scholars have defined the credible evidence standard as the requirement that the jury sees the evidence as natural, reasonable, and probable.

Find Help From Us

If you or a loved one is pursuing a legal case, you need experienced and skilled help from an attorney who has extensive knowledge of California’s laws. The attorneys at DiMarco | Araujo | Montevideo provide dedicated representation for people in California. For representation or advice on potential legal proceedings, contact us today.