jury and reasonable doubt

Defining “Reasonable Doubt” in a Criminal Case

It’s a very serious matter to be charged with a crime. With various aspects of your future often on the line, it can be very worrisome. The good news is that courts would rather let 10 guilty men go free than convict one innocent man. In a criminal case, the prosecution always has the burden of proving the alleged crime. In order to protect the rights of the defendant and prevent false convictions, criminal charges carry the highest standard of proof: “guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.” But what does that actually mean?

To Convict There Must Be No Reasonable Doubt 

In trying to prove that the defendant is guilty, the prosecution will present an array of evidence to the judge or jury. In order for the defendant to be convicted, the prosecution must prove that he or she is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In other words, if there were even one reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime, he or she would have to go free. 

If this weren’t the standard of proof for criminal cases, people could be found guilty of crimes for which there are other reasonable explanations. However, it’s important to note that there is a difference between doubt and reasonable doubt. In other words, if it were at all reasonable that someone else could have committed the crime, the prosecution would not have met its burden of proof. But what makes doubt reasonable in the first place? 

Reasonable doubt is more than an imagined doubt. It is often defined as a doubt that would cause a reasonable person to hesitate before acting. 

The Due Process Clause 

According to the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution, each person accused of committing a crime must be given a fair trial (due process). It’s important to differentiate evidence from a ruling. To have evidence allowed in, it does not require that there be no reasonable doubt. Rather, evidence can only be excluded on other legal grounds – a decision made by the judge. It’s the verdict that requires no reasonable doubt. 

The Law Office of Ronald L. Freeman Helps Those in California Who Have Been Charged with a Crime 

If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime in California, you should be sure to take it seriously. Such a charge can have tremendous life-long effects on you, impacting everything from where you can work to where you can live, to what you are allowed to possess. That’s why it is so important to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced San Bernardino and Riverside criminal defense attorney who understands criminal law and can help to walk you through the whole process. 

At the Law Office of Ronald L. Freeman, our San Bernardino and Riverside criminal defense attorneys will work to defend your freedom, collect proper evidence to help your case and work hard to have the criminal charges against you dropped or your reduced. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!