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Explaining Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

Okabe & Haushalter Aug 17, 2018 Criminal Defense

Have you ever wondered what it means when someone says beyond a reasonable doubt? If you’ve heard this saying in the past it’s likely because you have been charged with a crime in California. The most simple definition of this saying is that the prosecution must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the crime in order to convict you. Our Los Angeles criminal defense attorney would like to explain beyond a reasonable doubt in today’s post so you have knowledge of what is required.

The Need for Reasonable Suspicion

The very first burden that the prosecution must prove in a criminal case is what’s known as the need for reasonable suspicion. This is a low burden of proof that is needed for a police officer to initiate an investigation into an individual. It does, however, require the police officer to have more than just a hunch to initiate a stop and subsequent investigation of a person.

Probable Cause

Probable cause is the next part of a criminal case. This is the next level of the law that involves the burden of proof. Probable cause is whether or not the police officer had enough proof to justify a search or arrest of an individual. This burden of proof is also what is used when the police approach a judge requesting a search warrant. If there is not enough burden of proof the judge will not issue the warrant. The burden of proof cannot be used solely to convict a defendant beyond a reasonable doubt.

The Evidence

There are two things that must be taken into account when it comes to the evidence in a criminal case: the preponderance of evidence and the evidence that is clear and convincing. There are a lot of times when this is the burden placed on the defendant to prove an affirmative defense to their charges. The way this is proven is by showing that the likelihood is greater that something didn’t happen.

The most important burden of proof that the prosecution must prove is that there was clear and convincing evidence as part of the case. In order for the prosecution to prove this, they must be able to show that there is a firm belief that the allegations made against the defendant are true.

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

Reasons, why a jury cannot convict a defendant in a criminal case, including the following:

  • Can not convict on a hunch
  • Can not convict if they believe there was a slight probability a crime was committed
  • Can not convict if they think it’s more likely than not a crime was committed
  • Can not convict if they think it’s highly probable a crime was committed

The only way a jury is allowed to convict a defendant in a criminal case is by having no reasonable doubt in their minds that a crime was committed.

Were you recently arrested and charged with a crime in California? A Los Angeles criminal defense attorney can help you understand the charges and what to expect with the case. Contact Okabe & Haushalter at 310-430-7799 to schedule a consultation today.