Chicago Criminal Lawyer Describes What It Means to Be Guilty “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt”
The standard of proof that is applied in a criminal case is known as “beyond a reasonable doubt,” and one that your Chicago criminal lawyer may stress during a trial. In the American criminal justice system, you are presumed innocent of a crime, until the prosecution proves otherwise. This burden of proof rests with the prosecution – not you – when you are charged with a crime. Your innocence is not for your Chicago criminal attorney or for you to prove. Rather, the prosecution is required to prove your guilt in every element of the charge.
How “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt” Is Defined
Defining “beyond a reasonable doubt” is not defined the same in every court. Essentially, a jury must be satisfied “to a moral certainty” or “firmly convinced” that you are guilty. Consequently, if a juror is not satisfied to a moral certainty or firmly convinced of your guilt, that juror must give you the benefit of the doubt. Therefore, you should receive a not guilty vote. On the other hand, if the juror has some doubt about your innocence based on evidence presented during the trial, she may vote to convict. On the other hand, if the juror has some doubt about your innocence based on evidence presented during the trial, she may vote to convict. Still, the term does not imply “beyond a shadow of a doubt.” If strong evidence shows a remote possibility – but no probability – of an extenuating circumstance, the prosecution is deemed to have proven guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Standard of Proof
Meeting this standard of proof can impact many aspects of a criminal trial such as:
- Whether you testify in your own defense
- Whether your Chicago criminal lawyer presents defense witnesses
- Questions your Chicago criminal attorney asks witnesses for the prosecution during cross-examination
- How jurors examine evidence
There are high stakes in a criminal case. Using “beyond a reasonable doubt” as the highest standard in this type of legal proceeding is appropriate.