In a recent incident in Florida, a police officer was fired due to accusations of sexual assault. In an interview, the chief of police said that the officer would not be charged, because there was "a preponderence of evidence, but not probable cause."

I see that preponderence of evidence is defined as "greater than 50% chance that the claim is true" (or "more likely than not"). It's frequently brought up as a less rigorous standard than proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

However, just from the language, I would think that probable cause would be less rigorous than a preponderence of evidence. This intuition seems to be corroborated by this article from Duke:

Preponderance of the evidence requires a finding of more likely than not, whereas probable cause is a lower standard that requires reasonable grounds to believe.

How can one have a preponderence of evidence, but not probable cause?

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    I do not see any mention of either probable cause or preponderance of the evidence in the article you link to. Commented Sep 11, 2022 at 4:14

1 Answer 1


The quote seems to come from here. Immediately before the quote, the article states that "Although New Port Richey Police found there to be enough evidence to terminate Lubrido, Bogart said there wasn't enough to criminally charge him". The attached documents provide ample verbiage regarding the rules, regulations, investigation and findings by the police department.

It seems most likely that Chief Bogart was using words loosely. While police officers definitely have to understand what "probable cause" is (they arrest people if they have it), "preponderance of evidence" is a concept relevant to civil trials, thus not in the bailiwick of the police, so this could have just been informal talking. Nevertheless, a less abbreviated statement makes clear what the difference is – "we found a preponderance of evidence to support termination of his employment contract, but not probable cause of a crime to support an arrest".

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    To put it loosely, "we're confident that if he were to sue us for wrongful termination, we would have the required evidence to win. However, we do not have the required evidence to win at a criminal trial for sexual assault charges."
    – hszmv
    Commented Sep 11, 2022 at 15:59
  • So, there are separate allegations of fact, one set of which constitute workplace misconduct that justifies termination and which is supported by the preponderance of the evidence, and another set which constitute sexual assault for which they do not have probably cause? Commented Sep 12, 2022 at 3:29

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