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Definition of Preponderance of the Evidence

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Collen Clark Published by Collen Clark

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The plaintiff in a civil trial must present evidence that meets the legal burden of proof proving the defendant's liability for some harm. The evidentiary standard, known as preponderance of the evidence, is one method used to assess whether or not this burden has been met.

As a personal injury attorney, I have gathered much evidence to help my clients win their cases by meeting the preponderance of the evidence standard. 

In this article, you will learn everything there is to know about the preponderance of the evidence so that you can be better informed.

Quick Summary

  • In a civil court case, the person suing must have strong evidence to show that they are right and should win the case.
  • In a civil court, the burden for the plaintiff to show a preponderance of the evidence is lower than having to eliminate all reasonable doubt.
  • The attorney for the plaintiff tries to present enough evidence to the judge so that most of it is in favor of their claim.

What Is Preponderance?

Preponderance is the evidentiary standard for a win in a civil case. The courts will find your favor if you can prove that there is a more than 50% chance that your claim is valid. This standard, called the preponderance of the evidence, is used in civil cases [1].

The Preponderance of the Evidence vs. Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

A lawyer looking at a laptop while writing down preponderance of the evidence vs beyond a reasonable doubtOne of the most significant distinctions between criminal cases and civil lawsuits is evidence. The person bringing the case has to present enough evidence for their argument to be considered more likely true than not.

In a criminal trial, prosecutors have to show that it's very probable the defendant is guilty. But in a civil lawsuit, plaintiffs only have to show that their claim is more likely true than false.

These terms might not mean much to the average American, but they're important in our judicial system.

The Preponderance of the Evidence Standard: Criminal Cases

Cases involving potential criminal charges use the beyond-a-reasonable-doubt standard, which requires near certainty to be accurate. 

The beyond-a-reasonable doubt standard is higher than the preponderance of evidence and clear and convincing evidence standards, which only need more than 50% accuracy.

The beyond-a-reasonable doubt standard is the highest evidence standard in the US court system [2]

This means that it is entirely the prosecution's responsibility to provide evidence to show that there is no way the facts and evidence could have occurred in any other manner than the one that offers the defendant's guilt.

The jury needs to be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the criminal accusation was founded. This is based on the evidence provided, and it becomes the jury's duty to analyze this information.

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The Preponderance of the Evidence Standard: Civil Cases

A lawyer writing down preponderance of the evidence on standard civil casesThe burden of proof for a civil court plaintiff to show a preponderance of the evidence is lower than the burden to eliminate all reasonable doubt. 

The bar is higher for defendants accused of crimes because the evidence must eliminate all reasonable doubt. If not, the defendant cannot be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Anything from disagreements over property lines to fraud charges can be classified as a civil case. Although, none of these situations result in jail time for the plaintiff or defendant.

This is why there is a lenient approach regarding what type and extent of evidence can prove an event occurred.

"Preponderance of the evidence is most frequently used in civil cases, although it is also used in some criminal proceedings. It means "more likely than not."
- Neil Shouse, Attorney

FAQs

What Is an Example of Preponderance of the Evidence?

An example of preponderance of evidence includes written documents, audio/visual recordings, and witness testimonies.

What Is the Meaning of Preponderance in Law?

The meaning of preponderance in law refers to the evidence standard necessary for winning a civil case. 

Does Preponderance Mean Majority?

Yes, preponderance means the majority. Preponderance implies that there is more significant evidence to support that an event occurred than not.

What Is Vast Preponderance?

Vast preponderance is a specific legal term used to describe an overwhelming amount of evidence supporting one side in a dispute. 

What Is Heavy Preponderance?

Heavy preponderance is a legal term that describes an amount of proof that is more than just substantial and carries greater weight than most other types. In a court of law, this could be enough to prove one's case beyond a reasonable doubt. 

If you have a civil case needing legal assistance, call Schmidt & Clark, LLP for a free consultation session. Our experienced attorneys will help you understand your legal rights and obligations. 

We can help navigate the complexities of the preponderance of evidence cases and get the best outcome for you. Contact us today to learn more about how we can assist you.


References:

  1. https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/preponderance
  2. https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/beyond_a_reasonable_doubt