Generally, burden of proof describes the standard that a party seeking to prove a fact in court must satisfy to have that fact legally established. There are different standards for different circumstances.
In civil cases, the plaintiff has the burden of proving their case by a preponderance of the evidence, which means the plaintiff merely needs to show that the fact in dispute is more likely than not. A "preponderance of the evidence" and "beyond a reasonable doubt" are different standards, requiring different amounts of proof.
- beyond a reasonable doubt in criminal law.
- clear and convincing evidence in fraud in will disputes.
- preponderance of the evidence in most civil cases.
- probable cause in the acquisition of a warrant or arrest proceeding.
- reasonable belief as part of establishing probable cause.
- reasonable suspicion in cases involving police stop and searches.
- some credible evidence in cases necessitating immediate intervention, like child protective services disputes.
- some evidence in cases involving inmate discipline.
- substantial evidence in many appellate cases.
[Last updated in June of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]