What Is Reasonable Doubt in Law

Jurors should be asked to use a reasonable doubt when determining the guilt or innocence of a criminal accused. However, the courts have tried to define what constitutes a reasonable doubt. [3] [18] There is disagreement as to whether the jury should have a definition of “reasonable doubt.” [19] Some state courts have prohibited giving jurors a definition. [18] In Victor v. In Nebraska (1994), the U.S. Supreme Court expressed disapproval of the unclear instructions for the reasonable doubts it had requested, but refrained from presenting an exemplary jury instruction. [20] Reasonable doubts arose in English common law and were intended to protect jurors from a potentially fatal sin, since only God can judge man. [18] The idea was to dispel a juror`s concern about damnation when judging another human being. [18] Since there is no formal jury direction that adequately defines reasonable doubts, and depending on the origins of the doctrine and its development, reasonable doubts can be dispelled by determining whether there is another explanation for the facts that seems plausible. [18] If this is the case, there are reasonable doubts and the accused must be acquitted. [18] Reasonable doubt is the highest standard of proof used in court.

In civil proceedings, the standard of proof is either evidence by a PREPONDERANCE OF EVIDENCE or evidence by clear and convincing evidence. This is a lighter burden of proof. A preponderance of evidence simply means that one party has more evidence in its favor than the other, even to the lesser extent. Clear and convincing evidence is evidence that proves a high probability that the fact to be proved is true. The main reason why the high level of proof of reasonable doubt is used in criminal proceedings is that criminal proceedings can lead to the deprivation of liberty of a defendant or the death of the accused, much more serious results than in civil proceedings, where pecuniary damages are the usual remedy. Legal systems tend to avoid quantifying the reasonable standard of doubt (for example, as a “probability of more than 90%”)[2], although lawyers have argued from a variety of analytical perspectives to quantify the standard of criminal evidence. [3] [4] Jurors are always told that if a conviction is to be handed down, the prosecution must prove the case without a doubt. This statement can only mean that in order to be acquitted, the prisoner must “satisfy” the jury.

It is the law as it is in the Court of Criminal Appeal in Rex v. Davies 29 times LR 350; 8 Cr App R 211, the guiding principle of which rightly states that, in cases where intent forms part of a criminal offence, the defendant is not required to prove that the alleged act was accidental. Throughout the network of English criminal law, there is always a common thread to see that it is the duty of the prosecution to prove the guilt of the prisoner, subject to what I have already said about the defence of insanity and subject to any legal exception. If, ultimately and throughout the case, there is a reasonable doubt caused by the evidence presented by the prosecution or the prisoner as to whether the prisoner killed the deceased with malicious intent, the prosecution has not presented the case and the prisoner is entitled to an acquittal. Regardless of the charge or the location of the trial, the principle that the prosecution must prove the prisoner`s guilt is part of English common law, and no attempt to reduce it can be upheld. A study published in 1999 found that many jurors were unsure of what to mean “beyond a reasonable doubt.” “They usually thought in percentages and debated and contradicted each other about the percentage of certainty required for `beyond a reasonable doubt,` and interpreted it differently as 100%, 95%, 75% and even 50%. At times, this has led to deep misunderstandings about the standard of proof. [13] Beyond a reasonable doubt, the legal burden of proof is necessary to confirm a conviction in criminal proceedings. In criminal proceedings, the onus is on the Crown to prove that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This means that the prosecution must convince the jury that there is no other reasonable explanation that can come from the evidence presented at trial.

In other words, the jury must be virtually certain of the guilt of the accused to reach a guilty verdict. This standard of proof is much higher than the civil standard, which is called the “preponderance of evidence” and requires only more than 50% certainty. Unequivocal proof is required only in criminal cases, as the possible penalties are severe. Lawyers and judges in Florida can better define reasonable doubts. Here`s how Florida`s federal courts define reasonable doubts: Read this a few hundred times and see if it makes sense to you. I am a criminal procedure lawyer certified by the Council. There are more than 100,000 lawyers in Florida and currently only 422 lawyers have this board certification. I have tried many cases and have reflected on this instruction of reasonable doubt over the past fifteen years. To counter this mountain of evidence, Simpson assembled a legal “dream team” that tried to cast doubt on his guilt in the minds of jurors. His case was intended to cast doubt on the validity of the DNA evidence and the integrity of the police officers investigating the murder. The murder trial of O.J.

Simpson in 1995 is an example of the notion of reasonable doubt in practice. The former soccer star has been accused of murdering his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and boyfriend Ron Goldman. There was significant incriminating evidence against Simpson, including his DNA at the scene and blood in his car. Since 1945, Japan has also operated under a standard of “reasonable doubt,” including the doctrine in dubio pro reo, introduced by the Supreme Court in a controversial murder trial in 1975 (the Shiratori case before the Supreme Court of Japan, see, for example, notes on Shigemitsu Dandō). However, this is not considered an essential standard in Japan, and lower-level judges sometimes ignore it. [21] One of the highlights of the trial occurred in the courtroom when Simpson attempted to put on a bloody leather glove salvaged from his property and showed that his hand did not fit inside. In his closing statements, senior defense attorney Johnnie Cochran said, “If that`s not okay, you have to acquit.” Cochran listed 15 points of reasonable doubt in this case. After less than four hours of deliberation, the jury found Simpson not guilty on both counts of murder. Jury instructions are determined by a panel of judges and lawyers who are appointed to a Rules Committee. In my experience, committee members have been open to suggestions and can solve problems with instructions.

For years, we didn`t have an instruction that defined the term “weakened” in the DUI statement, and then after years of complaints, we had one. There is therefore hope for some clarity regarding the order of reasonable doubt The authors of the Constitution were wary of a legal system with too much power and promised that no person under the law should be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process. Requiring prosecutors to prove beyond any doubt every element of a crime is a way for the justice system to protect the fundamental right of every accused to due process. One of the problems is that we begin the definition of reasonable doubt by defining what it is not – “not a simple possible doubt, a speculative, imaginary or forced doubt”. Then we use the term “lasting conviction of guilt.” When was the last time you used the word “permanent” in a sentence? These jury instructions are given to the civilian jurors. Is “persistent guilt” really the best and clearest way to describe this critical concept? In English common law before the reasonable standard of doubt, sentencing in criminal trials had serious religious effects on the jury. According to the law of the court before the 1780s: “The juror who declares any other person guilty is engaged in God`s revenge on his family and his profession, body and soul, in this or that world.” [6] It was also believed: “In case of doubt, where salvation is in danger, one must always go in the safest way. A judge who has doubts must refuse to rule. [6] In response to these religious fears,[6] a “reasonable doubt” was introduced into English common law in the late 18th century, making it easier for jurors to be convicted. Therefore, the initial use of the “reasonable doubt” standard contrasted with its modern use of restricting a juror`s ability to convict.

Note: The conviction of a defendant requires unequivocal proof of guilt. There is a reasonable doubt when an investigator cannot say with moral certainty that a person is guilty or that a certain fact exists. .