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Legal Dictionary


In legal scenarios, the term “preponderance” often refers to the standard of proof known as the “preponderance of the evidence.” This standard is usually used in civil cases and requires the party with the burden of proof to demonstrate that their version of the facts is more likely to be true than the opposing party’s version. It is a lower standard of proof compared to the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard used in criminal cases.

Here are a few key points about the preponderance of evidence in legal contexts:

Definition: Preponderance of the evidence means that the evidence presented by one party is more convincing or has greater weight than the evidence presented by the opposing party.

Probability Standard: It is based on a probability standard. The trier of fact (judge or jury) must believe that it is more likely than not (i.e., more than a 50% chance) that the facts are as the party with the burden of proof asserts.

Civil Cases: This standard is primarily applied in civil cases, such as personal injury lawsuits, contract disputes, and family law matters. In these cases, the goal is to determine liability and assess damages.

Decision-Making: If, after considering all the evidence, the trier of fact believes that one party’s version of the facts is more probable, then that party meets the preponderance of the evidence standard.

Weight of Evidence: The term “preponderance” emphasizes the idea of a tipping of the scales in favor of one party. It doesn’t require absolute certainty but rather a greater weight of evidence in one direction.

For example, if someone is filing a lawsuit for negligence, they need to establish, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the defendant’s actions were more likely than not the cause of the harm they suffered.

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