clear and convincing evidence

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“Clear and convincing evidence” is a medium level burden of proof which must be met for certain convictions/judgments. This standard is a more rigorous to meet than preponderance of the evidence standard, but less rigorous standard to meet than proving evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. The clear and convincing evidence standard is employed in both civil and criminal trials.

According to the Supreme Court in Colorado v. New Mexico, 467 U.S. 310 (1984), "clear and convincing” means that the evidence is highly and substantially more likely to be true than untrue. In other words, the fact finder must be convinced that the contention is highly probable.

States vary with regard to which standard of proof they require. However, claims which involve fraud, wills, and withdrawing life support will typically require the clear and convincing evidence standard. For example, some courts have held that enforcement of a gift causa mortis requires a clear and convincing showing that the gift occurred during the decedent’s lifetime. 

[Last updated in July of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]