Sample Criminal Law Article Review Paper on Standards of Proof Revisited

Standards of Proof Revisited

Preponderance of the evidence, clear and convincing, and beyond reasonable doubt are legally different despite serving the same purpose of standards of proof. Preponderance of the evidence prevails in civil cases and it often translates into ‘more likely than not” besides acting to minimize the expected cost of error in case the cost of error against the plaintiff and that against the defendant are more or less the same (Clermont, 2008). Proof beyond a reasonable doubt, on the other hand, prevails in criminal cases, and it implies a high degree or probability or proximity to certainty. It serves the purpose of minimizing the expected cost of error because the error of convincing the innocent is costly (Clermont, 2008). The other standard of proof, clear and convincing, prevails intra-adjudicative in administrative court determinations, civil cases, as well as criminal procedures and it implies that evidence presented by a party during trial is substantially and highly probable to be true than not (Gordon & Walton, 2009).

There is no doubt that these three different standards of proof are applied incorrectly by jurors in the judicial system today. This is evident in the fact that the Civil law, which is used by jurors in making rulings, often asks whether the fact provided is so probable to create an inner conviction of its truth rather than asking whether a fact is more likely true than not (Clermont, 2008).

It should also be noted that jury instructions do not assist in the application of the mentioned burdens of proof to properly determine the case at hand. This is because jurists prefer to use psychological mechanisms such as the level of confidence and the level of probability. In actuality, jurists look to confidence levels when they are called upon to apply a given standard of proof, and this underlines the fact that jury instructions do not assist in the application of the same (Clermont, 2008).


Clermont, K. M. (2008). Standards of proof revisited. Vt. L. Rev., 33, 469.

Gordon, T. F., & Walton, D. (2009). Proof burdens and standards. In Argumentation in artificial intelligence (pp. 239-258). Springer US.