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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 ?
"I don't know if all of them would return after only shaking the hands of young patients at the town hospital and expressing their good wishes for the well-being of the Thar people or if they would do something substantial to improve the people's health, education and living conditions," I said doubtfully.
23," Stephen Kelly and Ryan Perry discuss the contents of the three booklets that make up this manuscript, suggesting the focus and contexts of some of the twenty-seven texts it contains and pointing up the hybridity of a collection which can marry the orthodox with the doubtfully orthodox.
although there is mention that one of the Plus ultra settings doubtfully attributed to Lupi "convey[s] an image of military, power" (p.
Hoff (1964) doubtfully stated that the Floridian specimens have two blades in the rallum of the chelicera whereas the Cuban specimens definitely have three blades, but it could be because of the position of the chelicera during the permanent preparation of the specimen in his study.
When the bar to the DSO was first proposed, the staff officers looked doubtfully at the recommendation so soon after the award of the first DSO, but were overruled personally by Bomber Harris.
"Is she?" Ayaz asked doubtfully after learning Jolie was an actress.
"I suppose it could," you say doubtfully, "it might be worth trying.
"A fascist, Mom?" I queried, doubtfully. "I thought that's what I was."
Waiting doubtfully in my tree stand for a nerve-wracking 45 minutes, just as it got dark, I finally noticed out of the corner of my eye the tiny, lighted nock of my arrow sticking out of the ground about 20 yards away.
"Bob decided against the poster after it was printed, and after he had reluctantly and doubtfully proceeded with it"--that is the summary offered by his wife, Nancy Holt.
"Maybe in half an hour?" I said doubtfully, real caves, damp caves with things growing in them, not necessarily being my absolute favorite thing.