reasonable doubt

This is a measure or standard by which a jury or judge decides a criminal case. The decider of facts – jury or judge – must vote whether or not the government’s prosecutor (state or federal) has met the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. In the American legal system, reasonable doubt is the highest burden of proof or standard.

In contrast, a civil case, such as personal injury, has a burden of proof by the preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). A person’s life or freedom can be of grave concern and at stake in a criminal case. Therefore, reasonable doubt must be proven by the government’s prosecutor with evidence in order for the jury or judge to convict. If not, then the government’s prosecutor has not met the burden of proof yielding in a hung jury or not guilty verdict.

Reasonable doubt is not a scientific formula or model. The pattern jury instructions, as provided by the trial judge, will describe the standard for the jury. Reasonable doubt is not beyond all doubt, but rather the government’s prosecutor must show or prove that the criminal defendant committed such crime(s) beyond a reasonable doubt. Reasonable doubt plays an essential role throughout all criminal cases.

If you have been charged with a crime, it is highly recommended to seek the advice and counsel of a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. As a person facing charges, you have the right to remain silent and to retain an attorney. The selection of an attorney is an important and thoughtful process.

See the Author’s Blog about “Selecting a Lawyer.”


About the Author:

Patrick G. King, a trial lawyer, practices in the areas of Personal Injury (Automobile Accidents, Bike Accidents, Construction Site Accidents, Dog Bites, Dram Shop, Injuries to Children, Motorcycle Accidents, Negligence, Premises Liability, Products Liability, Trucking Accidents/Semi-Tractor Trailer Accidents, and Wrongful Death), Criminal Defense (Felony, Misdemeanor, DUI, and Traffic), and Driver’s License Reinstatement cases before Illinois Secretary of State at Formal Administrative Hearings. Patrick is licensed to practice law in Illinois and Missouri and actively represents clients in the following counties, Madison County, IL, Jersey County, IL, St. Clair County, IL, Macoupin County, IL, Montgomery County, IL, Green County, IL, Calhoun County, IL, Bond County, IL, and Monroe County, IL. Patrick also represents clients throughout the St. Louis Metropolitan Area.