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To question or hold questionable. Uncertainty of mind; the absence of a settled opinion or conviction; the attitude of mind toward the acceptance of or belief in a proposition, theory, or statement, in which the judgment is not at rest but inclines alternately to either side.

Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt is not beyond all possible or imaginary doubt, but such proof as precludes every reasonable hypothesis except that which it tends to support. It is proof to a moral certainty, that is, such proof as satisfies the judgment and consciences of the jury, as reasonable people and applying their reason to the evidence before them, that the crime charged has been committed by the defendant, and so satisfies them as to leave no other reasonable conclusion possible.

A Reasonable Doubt is such a doubt as would cause a reasonable and prudent person in the graver and more important affairs of life to pause and hesitate to act upon the truth of the matter charged. It does not mean a mere possible doubt, because everything relating to human affairs, and depending on moral evidence, is open to some possible or imaginary doubt.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006

DOUBT. The uncertainty which exists in relation to a fact, a proposition, or other thing; or it is an equipoise of the mind arising from an equality of contrary reasons. Ayl. Pand. 121.
     2. The embarrassing position of a judge is that of being in doubt, and it is frequently the lot of the wisest and most enlightened to be in this condition, those who have little or no experience usually find no difficulty in deciding the most, problematical questions.
     3. Some rules, not always infallible, have been adopted in doubtful cases, in order to arrive at the truth. 1. In civil cases, the doubt ought to operate against him, who having it in his power to prove facts to remove the doubt, has neglected to do so. In cases of fraud when there is a doubt, the presumption of innocence (q.v.) ought to remove it. 2. In criminal cases, whenever a reasonable doubt exists as to the guilt of the accused that doubt ought to operate in his favor. In such cases, particularly, when the liberty, honor or life of an individual is at stake, the evidence to convict ought to be clear, and devoid of all reasonable doubt. See Best on Pres. Sec. 195; Wils. on Cir. Ev. 26; Theory of Presumptive Proof, 64; 33 How. St. Tr. 506; Burnett, Cr. Law of Scotl. 522; 1 Greenl. Ev. Sec. 1 D'Aguesseau, Oeuvres, vol. xiii. p. 242; Domat, liv. 3, tit. 6.
     4. No judge is presumed to have any doubt on a question of law, and he cannot therefore refuse to give a judgment on that account. 9 M. R. 355; Merlin, Repert. h.t.; Ayliffe's Pand. b. 2, t. 17; Dig. lib. 34, t. 5; Code, lib. 6, t. 38. Indeed, in some countries; in China, for example, ignorance of the law in a judge is punishable with blows. Penal Laws of China, B. 2, s. 61.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in periodicals archive ?
But consultant Ben Jones says not one piece of hard evidence has been provided to prove, beyond doubt, that the works his company dealt with were not the real McCoy.
Mr Babar said that it had been proved beyond doubt that the present government at the Centre had used the JIT as a tool to politically victimise the opposition.
It is beyond doubt that unless those who are resourceful and well-connected are made to face the law for their misdeeds, the dream of a peaceful and progressive Pakistan will remain elusive.
But today his statement in Karnataka has proved beyond doubt that he has absolutely no answer whatsoever to these issues," she claimed.
Goals from Wesson and Lewis Simms put the tie beyond doubt, though John Thrower made it 4-2 in a late rally by Park End.
Coaker said: "The jobs of thousands of Scots in our defence industry are secured by being part of the UK "One thing we know beyond doubt is that leaving the UK would cost defence jobs.
The causes of fire, he said, are being examined, but added that "it is also beyond doubt that Molotov cocktails have been thrown by both sides, flying from the building and into the building."
"And, it has proved beyond doubt, that in Gujarat, there was no democratic norms and practice.
Andrew Welsh had two chances to put the result beyond doubt, but his shooting was wayward.
He might like to ponder on what John Mortimer the author, who described himself as an atheist for Christ: "Seeing the impact on society of a generation that rejected God, and as a result Christian ethics, what is beyond doubt is that the Gospels provide a system of ethics to which we must return if we are to avoid social disaster - even the unbelievers should go back to church today." Frances Smith, Northfield
The lad's quality is beyond doubt, but you wonder if he is even on Vincente del Bosque's radar sometimes.
An extraordinary exchange began after the presenter turned to the issue of whether Mr Blair had effectively lied when he told MPs it was "beyond doubt" Iraq had such weapons.