What is the standard of proof for violations of 47 CFR 97, the amateur (ham) radio regulations? Is it preponderance of the evidence or beyond reasonable doubt?

1 Answer 1


The FCC addresses this.

As a general matter, the standard of proof is the “preponderance of the evidence” standard. See, e.g., Application of Ameritech Michigan Pursuant to Section 271 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, to provide In-Region InterLATA Services in Michigan, Memorandum Opinion and Order, 12 FCC Rcd 20543, 20568-69, paras. 45-46, n.87 (1997); Bender v. Clark, 744 F.2d 1424, 1429 (10th Cir. 1984) (“The traditional standard required in a civil or administrative proceeding is proof by a preponderance of the evidence [and t]he traditional preponderance standard must be applied unless the type of case and the sanctions or hardship imposed require a higher standard.”)

Reasonable doubt is the standard for criminal prosecutions, which are not included in 47 CFR Part 97.

  • note that they have it super easy to gather evidence: recording the radio signal and frequency, finding the radio used, and they got an ironclad case.
    – Trish
    Dec 26, 2022 at 19:33
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    @Trish it's not always that easy; consider a case where a person allegedly operated FT8 unattended. You can't really tell that they left their station unattended from a recording of the transmissions.
    – Someone
    Dec 27, 2022 at 1:19
  • @Someone am not a ham but from reading about it, isn't FT8 normally operated unattended? Mar 28, 2023 at 16:03
  • @user253751 it's often done, but it's definitely not normal. It's illegal (at least in the US) and considered poor etiquette, although some people do it anyway.
    – Someone
    Mar 28, 2023 at 17:46

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