Burdens of Proof Explained

Reasonable Suspicion

Reasonable Suspicion is used extensively for traffic stops or temporary detentions. It requires specific, articulable facts, which when combined with rational inferences, lead an officer to believe that a person is, has been, or will soon be committing a crime.  This is one of the lowest burdens of proof in the judicial system; however, just a “hunch” is not enough to meet this burden.

Probable Cause

Probable Cause is required for an officer to make an arrest.  It requires facts and/or circumstances that would cause an ordinary person to believe that the arrestee would be guilty of the crime.  Probable Cause is required for an arrest, to obtain an arrest warrant or search warrant, or for a Grand Jury to indict a case. Probable Cause is the cornerstone of every citizen's 4th Amendment rights.  It requires sufficient proof to believe that a crime has been committed or that evidence of a crime will be found.

Preponderance of the Evidence

Preponderance of the Evidence is rarely used in criminal law cases, although it is very common in civil lawsuits.  It is also known as the 51% rule.  Essentially, it requires proof that is more likely than not true.  In other words, at least a 51% belief that an allegation is true.

Clear and Convincing Evidence

Clear and Convincing Evidence is proof so high that a person has a firm belief or conviction that an allegation is true.  This burden of proof is used when the State is attempting to take custody of someone's children.  This is an extremely high burden.  

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt is the highest burden in the United States legal system.  This burden of proof is required to be convicted of a criminal offense.  It is not proof beyond ALL DOUBT, and the State will make sure the jury understands this.  Since there is no set definition of Beyond a Reasonable Doubt in Texas state law, it can be difficult to get a jury to understand the enormity of this burden of proof.  You need a criminal defense attorney who will fight for your rights.  Call McLaughlin Law in Fort Worth at 817-482-6263.