Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

With the Casey Anthony verdict fresh on our minds, it’s important to reflect upon the jury’s decision, not with disdain, but with a desire to understand.  The jury was charged with the instruction that, in order to convict, it must find Ms. Anthony guilty beyond a reasonable doubt on any or all of the counts with which she was charged.  Some have argued that the jury didn’t understand this concept.  Let’s take a step back to see what it means.

“Beyond a reasonable doubt” is the standard that must be met by the prosecution’s evidence in a criminal prosecution.  To meet this standard, the jury must conclude that no other logical explanation can be derived from the facts except that the defendant committed the crime, thereby overcoming the presumption that a person is innocent until proven guilty.

Reasonable doubt, being somewhat subjective, is difficult for some jurors to understand. Some jurors believe that they must find that the defendant is guilty beyond ALL doubt.  This is simply not true.  There can be some doubt, it would just be unreasonable given the evidence presented.  Therefore, the term “beyond a reasonable doublt” does not mean that no doubt exists as to the accused’s guilt, but only that no reasonable doubt is possible from the evidence presented.

*Some of the above was excerpted from www.legal-dictionary.com

 

 

 

 

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