What Does “Beyond A Reasonable Doubt” Mean?

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When a jury is assigned a criminal case, they are given specific instructions. One is that they should only convict someone of a crime if the state has proven their case beyond a “reasonable doubt.” This is the metric used to decide whether or not someone gets sent to jail or faces other punishments, so it is important to know exactly what this means and how it could affect your criminal case. If you are facing a jury trial and potentially serious penalties, you should not try to form a defensive strategy all by yourself. A Mercer County criminal defense lawyer can help you poke holes in the prosecution’s case.

Is There a Difference Between Reasonable Doubt and Absolute Doubt?

There is a reason that our legal system uses reasonable doubt and not absolute doubt. It is the prosecution’s job to convince you that there is no other reasonable explanation here. They have shown you the evidence and built their case. The defendant must have committed the crime or crimes they are accused of committing.

This is different than absolute doubt, which is difficult to hold someone to. There are few things that can be confirmed with absolute certainty, and thus that is an unfair standard to hold the prosecution to. It would be almost impossible to hold people responsible for their crimes.

Why is Being Convinced Beyond a Reasonable Doubt So Important?

When a criminal goes to trial, there is supposed to be an assumption of innocence. That means that it is the prosecution’s job to prove that he is guilty. The defense does not need to show that the defendant is innocent without a doubt. That could be nearly impossible to do.

To create reasonable doubt, your lawyer will have to poke holes in the prosecution’s case against you. This usually means taking parts of the state’s case and contesting them directly. You and your lawyer could say that:

  • You have a credible alibi
  • Surveillance footage shows someone who looks like you, but it is not you
  • Eyewitness accounts are mistaken

Any of these arguments can make it harder to prove you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, which makes it more likely that you will be acquitted by a jury.

Do You Need a Defense Attorney?

A defense attorney from our firm can help you with your case in some key ways. Your lawyer will:

  • Get evidence thrown out
  • Show the jury clear holes in the prosecution’s argument
  • Field plea deals and other offers
  • Advise you on the best path forward
  • Handle all communications on your behalf
  • Help you avoid incriminating yourself

Trying to pick apart the state’s case against you can be quite difficult, and it is unlikely that this is something that you could do on your own. Contact the Law Office of Douglas Herring and schedule a consultation with our team. We would be happy to take the time to tell you more about what we can do for you.

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