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Standards for proof beyond a reasonable doubt

| Feb 24, 2021 | Criminal Defense |

If an Iowa court is trying a person for a criminal conviction, then the persecution must prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. It is the most challenging type of case to prove, as it is the highest standard of proof required by courts. Non-criminal cases, meanwhile, only require a preponderance of the evidence or clear and convincing evidence.

What is a reasonable doubt?

When proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the prosecution must demonstrate that the evidence and arguments they present would convince a reasonable person that the accused is guilty. This doesn’t require that the jury have no doubts, however. If a rational person would conclude guilt, that is enough. If this standard of proof is not met, no conviction can take place.

Other standards of proof

Criminal convictions have serious consequences, which is why they hold such a high burden of proof. Civil cases, on the other hand, have less severe consequences. Thus, they may use lower standards of proof.

Clear and convincing evidence, for example, only requires that a rational person would conclude that there is a high probability that the argument presented by one party is the truth. Preponderance of the evidence on the other hand, requires that, after both sides have made arguments, one side’s argument seems more likely to be true.

A person facing a trial for criminal conviction needs a strong defense on their side. A knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer can gather evidence and present an argument before a jury that casts doubt in the minds of the jury.