beyond a reasonable doubt


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Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

The standard that must be met by the prosecution's evidence in a criminal prosecution: that no other logical explanation can be derived from the facts except that the defendant committed the crime, thereby overcoming the presumption that a person is innocent until proven guilty.

If the jurors or judge have no doubt as to the defendant's guilt, or if their only doubts are unreasonable doubts, then the prosecutor has proven the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt and the defendant should be pronounced guilty.

The term connotes that evidence establishes a particular point to a moral certainty and that it is beyond dispute that any reasonable alternative is possible. It does not mean that no doubt exists as to the accused's guilt, but only that no Reasonable Doubt is possible from the evidence presented.

Beyond a reasonable doubt is the highest standard of proof that must be met in any trial. In civil litigation, the standard of proof is either proof by a preponderance of the evidence or proof by clear and convincing evidence. These are lower burdens of proof. A preponderance of the evidence simply means that one side has more evidence in its favor than the other, even by the smallest degree. Clear and Convincing Proof is evidence that establishes a high probability that the fact sought to be proved is true. The main reason that the high proof standard of reasonable doubt is used in criminal trials is that such proceedings can result in the deprivation of a defendant's liberty or even in his or her death. These outcomes are far more severe than in civil trials, in which money damages are the common remedy.

Cross-references

Clear and Convincing Proof; Due Process of Law; Preponderance of Evidence; Reasonable Doubt.

beyond a reasonable doubt

adj. part of jury instructions in all criminal trials, in which the jurors are told that they can only find the defendant guilty if they are convinced "beyond a reasonable doubt" of his or her guilt. Sometimes referred to as "to a moral certainty," the phrase is fraught with uncertainty as to meaning, but try: "you better be damned sure." By comparison it is meant to be a tougher standard than "preponderance of the evidence" used as a test to give judgment to a plaintiff in a civil (non-criminal) case. (See: reasonable doubt, moral certainty, conviction)

beyond a reasonable doubt

the standard of proof in criminal cases in the UK, higher than the civil standard of the BALANCE OF PROBABILITIES. Contrasted with the balance of probabilities, it is not a matter of weighing up both sides and deciding who has won. Thus, if matters are evenly balanced, the accused must be acquitted. Juries when charged are often reminded that they are allowed to have doubts. The doubt must be a real doubt before they acquit -it must not be a fanciful doubt.
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also questioned whether Judge Shaw's words made the concept of proof beyond a reasonable doubt any clearer to modern-day jurors.
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I like David Kendall's comment that Ray might just as well have said that he had found insufficient evidence "from which a jury might infer beyond a reasonable doubt that the Clintons had pilfered Powerball tickets, trapped fur-bearing mammals out of season, or sold nuclear secrets to Liechtenstein.
The Crown, like in all criminal cases, must prove all the elements of the alleged offence beyond a reasonable doubt.
Moreover, the charge made it clear to them that the standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt is inextricably linked to the presumption of innocence and that this burden never shifts to the accused.
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I think they have proven their case beyond a reasonable doubt," says Philipp Gerhardt, a microbiologist from Michigan State University in East Lansing who studies bacterial spores.
The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution requires the State to prove every element of a charged criminal offense beyond a reasonable doubt.
358 (1970)), the Supreme Court held that due process requires that the prosecution establish the elements of a charged crime beyond a reasonable doubt.
The jury had been improperly instructed on the standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
The Court, by a 5-4, vote, held that the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments require that any facts that subject defendants to heightened punishment must be found by a jury beyond a reasonable doubt.