Standards of Proof

By: The Titan Group, Professional Investigations #26242, Edward Saucerman, President

December 2, 2022

This article will be one of several articles in succession that will cover what evidence standards are required for a workplace investigation that include, but not limited to; a citizens’ complaint against a public employee (police & fire) employee vs. employee, employer vs. employee and employee vs. employer.

First and foremost, during an administrative investigation the standard of proof required is the “preponderance of evidence” standard. What does that mean? In basic terms, it means the evidence must tilt the scales of justice beyond 50%. If the finding has a lack of sufficient evidence (less than 50%) to support the allegation then the finding will not rise to the level of support in excess of 50%. If the finding has sufficient evidence to support the allegation then the finding has risen above 50%. Sufficient evidence is the overall evidence that has been obtained ever so slight to tilt the scales in support of finding it more likely than not that the allegation is supported by the evidence.

An example of a sufficient evidence finding is that the complainant and respondent have different stories and there is one independent witness that supports the complaint and the respondent is not credible. Then, there would be sufficient evidence to support the allegation because these facts are supported by the evidence and rise above 50% and there is a witness and a credibility determination.

Remember, use the preponderance of evidence standard for an investigation in the workplace such as a citizens’ complaint regarding a police employee. These are referred to as administrative investigations or internal investigations.

Further example, during an audit of a CA police agency, we discovered an internal investigation was conducted by a municipal police agency and the civilian investigation company hired used the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard of proof. That’s not the correct standard and is not correctly applied. That standard applies to criminal investigations not administrative investigations. Further, the Investigator announced himself as a “private investigator” during several recorded interviews. He possessed no such California Private Investigator license. Moreover, coupled with the wrong standard and having an unlicensed interviewer, the investigation was conducted incorrectly and was tainted by the use of someone unlicensed.

It’s very important for the Investigator to use the correct standard and know how to analyze the evidence for proper application.

In coming articles, we will discuss the additional finding standards such as significant and overwhelming for support of the allegation in question.

Remember ethics matter! We do not peddle agendas; we represent the truth! 

#privateinvestigator #workplaceinvestigations #internalaffairs #police #firefighters

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