Standard of Proof

This standard of proof in a civil lawsuit is significantly easier to satisfy than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard of a criminal case. In a civil lawsuit, the case must be proved by a “preponderance of the evidence,” that is, by enough evidence to conclude that it is more likely than not that the victim’s claims are true. A victim can still pursue a civil lawsuit, even if the criminal prosecution resulted in a “not guilty” verdict. Criminal prosecutions require a unanimous decision by all twelve jurors, which can be difficult to achieve. Civil lawsuits require agreement by only ten of twelve jurors for a decision. These significant differences between civil and criminal cases were underscored in the highly publicized O.J. Simpson case. The families of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman were able to obtain a $33.5 million dollar settlement against O.J. Simpson in civil court even though he had been acquitted of the murders in the criminal prosecution.