There are different levels of proof in legal cases. Everyone’s heard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt and thinks they know what it means. But in Texas it’s not defined, so what I can do is I can compare these other levels of proof just so you can get an idea of how high proof beyond a reasonable doubt is.
Reasonable suspicion. An example of reasonable suspicion is when an officer initiate a traffic stop. They believe that some crime is been committed. So they initiate the traffic stop and then they investigate. And let’s say they investigate and decide that a crime has been committed. At that point they have probable cause.
Probable cause is what it takes to them to make an arrest. So if someone has been arrested an officer has probable cause. That’s different from proof beyond a reasonable doubt. This is what it takes to land you in court.
Higher than that is preponderance of the evidence. Preponderance is used in civil cases, it’s more likely than not. So if there is a dispute, usually involving money evidence has to be presented to find someone was more likely than not responsible. So 51%. If there is evidence that shows 51%, that person wins. That’s a civil case.
Now, even higher than preponderance is clear and convincing evidence. An example of clear and convincing evidence is when there is an allegation of abuse or neglecting children. So the state investigates and they have to determine if there is enough evidence to rise to the level of clear and convincing evidence to take someone’s kids away. Taking someone kids away is pretty extreme. You got to understand, we are getting pretty high on these levels here.
Even higher is proof beyond a reasonable doubt. In a criminal case proof beyond a reasonable doubt is what’s required. So if you have small doubt or bigger doubt, any reasonable doubt, you find someone not guilty.