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.


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.
References in periodicals archive ?
The Supreme Court of Massachusetts stated that merely possessing a package received by mail or common carrier which contains drugs is not sufficient to support an inference beyond a reasonable doubt that the possessor knows the contents of the package.
This presumption places upon the People the burden of proving him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
If the defendant did not prove (insert appropriate burden of persuasion) that the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles misinformed [him][her] or otherwise prevented [him][her] from complying, you should find [him] [her] guilty if all the elements of the charge have been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
16) Because the court found Government inducement, the burden shifted to the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was disposed to commit the criminal act prior to first being approached by Government agents.
Once there is a basis for the giving of an affirmative defense instruction, the state must, through rebuttal or inference in its case in chief, produce evidence that would prove beyond a reasonable doubt the nonexistence of the affirmative defense.
and you also find beyond a reasonable doubt that during the commission of the crime [he] [she] personally [carried] [displayed] [used] [threatened to use] [attempted to use] a weapon, you should find [him] [her] guilty of (felony) with a weapon.
begin strikethrough]If the State has proven the crime of (crime charged) and if the State has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that (defendant):[end strikethrough]