Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Innocence and Guilt Beyond Reasonable Doubt

The Bill of Rights guarantees that every accused is deemed innocent of the crime he is charged with unless evidence is presented to prove otherwise. In criminal law, we often hear the term “beyond reasonable doubt”. This is the standard or the burden of proof that prosecutors must present and defense lawyers must refute. This is also the same standard that judges and jurors must use to weigh in the evidences and testimonies presented before them to arrive at either a guilty or a not guilty verdict.

In a country of laws like the United States, prosecutors must present substantial evidence that can lead judges and jurors to no other logical explanation but deduce that the crimes have resulted from the actions of the defendant. No judicial body or court of law will ever convict a person for a crime where the prosecution banks on circumstantial evidences or on the weakness of the defense.

In our criminal justice system, considerations for conviction or acquittal are not given whether the court doubts the innocence of the accused, but whether it does not or does entertain reasonable doubt as to his guilt. Prosecutors must present strong evidence to get a guilty verdict as it needs to pass the test of moral certainty. The slightest possibility of an innocent man being convicted of a crime he may not have committed would be far dreadful than letting a guilty person go unpunished for crimes he may have done.

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