What Does “Beyond A Reasonable Doubt” Mean?


When someone is a juror in a criminal case, they must consider all of the evidence before them and decide whether someone is guilty or not guilty. If they are not convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty, they need to find them not guilty. What is “reasonable doubt” though, and how does this standard affect how those accused of crimes can defend themselves in court? A Memphis criminal defense attorney from our firm can tell you more.

Why Does Our Justice System Use Reasonable Doubt as a Standard?

We have to find people guilty beyond a reasonable doubt because there is a presumption of innocence when someone is on trial. The case has to be built against them and then the jury has to look at all of the evidence. If a reasonable person would believe this story and think that someone committed this crime that they are accused of, they vote to convict.

Proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt is different than proving guilt beyond an absolute doubt. Proving guilt beyond an absolute doubt would be almost impossible in so many cases. This is because we cannot say how events happened with absolute certainty most of the time. What is more possible is building a case against someone and crafting a rather convincing version of events that is backed up with evidence, even if this is not necessarily the only version of events that is possible.

Who is the Burden of Proof on in a Criminal Case?

The burden of proof here has to be on the prosecution. As we mentioned, the defendant has the presumption of innocence. The prosecutor must gather evidence and build a case that shows that the defendant is guilty of committing the crimes that they are accused of.

How Can a Defense Lawyer Help Create Reasonable Doubt?

Then it is a defense lawyer’s job to poke holes in the prosecution’s case. This is how you create doubt in a criminal case. There are a few methods of doing this. Your lawyer might present evidence that contradicts evidence presented by the prosecution. They can also call the credibility of state witnesses into question. Maybe someone has a bias against you, or maybe they are a criminal. Maybe both of these things are true. Your lawyer can point these things out and cast doubt on their testimony.

Your defense attorney can also tell their own story and convince the jury of a different chain of events. Pointing out that you have an alibi and bringing up other potential suspects can also help create reasonable doubt.

Schedule a Consultation

If you are looking for a skilled defense attorney who can create reasonable doubt in your criminal case, contact Ballin, Ballin & Fishman, PC. We will help you fight for your rights and the best possible outcome. Schedule your free initial consultation today.