Standards of Proof

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STANDARDS OF PROOF Standard of proof can most easily be defined as the amount of proof needed to arrest someone depending on the activity in question. Probably the most notable of the various standards is that of probable cause. As stated in the Fourth Amendment, neither search or arrest warrants can be issued legally unless law enforcement officers convince a judge or a magistrate that there is a probable cause of some sort of criminal activity. Probably cause, however, is only one of many standards of proof. In fact, there are seven standards of proof and they are mere suspicion, reasonable suspicion, probable cause, preponderance of evidence, clear and convincing evidence, beyond a reasonable doubt, and absolute certainty. All of these standards of proof have various corresponding legal actions that follow them depending on the certainty of proof. The first standard of proof is Mere Suspicion. Mere suspicion is the equivalent of a gut feeling that perhaps a veteran law enforcement officer may feel. However, no matter how much of a gut feeling a law enforcement officer may have that officer cannot even legally stop a suspect. A standard of proof that has more certainty is Reasonable Suspicion. This is more than a gut feeling, it includes the ability to articulate reasons for suspicion. When an officer is an a situation that something looks out of place or wrong, that officer may stop and frisk a suspect based on this reasonable suspicion. Probable Cause, as I stated previously, is the amount of evidence present to reasonably suspect criminal activity. The next standard is Preponderance of Evidence. This is evidence that more likely than not outweighs the opposing evidence, or enough evidence to outweigh any doubt or speculation. Next, in the line of certainty, is Clear and Convincing Evidence. This standard is required in some civil and federal
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