Victory—In Face of Opposition, Leahy Scraps VAWA Draft Provision Which Lowers Evidence StandardsNovember 16th, 2011 by Glenn Sacks, MA, Executive Director
The common evidence standard for domestic violence restraining orders is “preponderance of the evidence,” often conceptualized as a mere 51/49% likelihood of guilt. By contrast, when someone seeks a civil restraining order, the more stringent and appropriate “clear and convincing” evidence standard is used.
In practice, this means that when neighbors Bob and Jim have a dispute over Bob’s dog eating Jim’s flowers, and Jim allegedly threatens to throw rocks at Bob’s dog, the courts demand that Bob provide solid evidence to support his claims of Jim’s threats. By stark contrast, if Bob’s wife decides to divorce him and seeks to throw him out of his house on a restraining order and cut him off from his kids, she has a much lower burden of proof on her claims.
Fathers and Families wants abused women (and men) to be afforded the protection they need. However, we have relentlessly publicized and fought the common problem of false allegations being used as child custody and financial maneuvers in divorce. And one of the key components in this fight is to replace the “preponderance” standard with the “clear and convincing” standard.
VAWA Re-Authorization Sought to Lower Evidence Standards
Recently there have been moves by the Obama administration to lower the evidence standard that universities and colleges use to adjudicate accusations of violence or abuse. According to Hans Bader, Esq.:
A Firestorm of Protest
Colleges and universities have often victimized innocent male students by validating spurious abuse or assault charges, as Fathers and Families Board Member Robert Franklin, Esq. details here. Franklin explains: