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Dependency Hearings: Burden of Proof

In nearly all cases where a government agency such as CPS files allegations against you, that agency has the burden of proof. It is the job of the attorney experienced in juvenile dependency law to protect and fight for you and against the allegations that are lodged against you.


Standards of Proof in Dependency Court Proceedings

Preponderance of the Evidence

Proof which is of greater weight or more convincing than the proof that is offered in opposition to it; that is, proof which as a whole shows that the fact sought to be proved is more probable than not.

This is the standard of proof in Juvenile and Dependency cases including Jurisdiction Hearings.

Real World Meaning: If the county's proof is 51% stronger or more convincing than that of the opposing party (you), their petition will be upheld by the court. While this is a relatively low standard of proof, do not be fooled. The department must still affirmatively prove the allegations they are asserting in every case by a preponderance of the evidence.


Clear and Convincing

Proof that results in a reasonable certainty of the truth of the fact or assertion in controversy.

This is the standard of proof that is used in Juvenile and Dependency Court for disposition hearings. If the county CPS agency is seeking a disposition of family reunification over your family, the burden of proof rests with that government agency.

Real World Meaning: The burden shifts again to the county; their proof must be 70-80% more convincing or stronger than that of the opposing party (you).


Reasonable Doubt (NOT used in juvenile court)

Proof that results in the belief that the fact or allegation by the government is true beyond a reasonable doubt.

This is the standard of proof that is uses in criminal cases. It is NOT used in Dependency Court proceedings.


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