What Does “Beyond A Reasonable Doubt” Mean?

Posted October 6th, 2023.

Categories: Blog.

gavel after motion to suppress evidence is approved

When a jury finds someone guilty, they have to be sure “beyond a reasonable doubt.” What that means is that anyone looking at the case presented to them could reasonably believe that the defendant was guilty. This is a high burden of proof to meet, but it is the prosecution’s job. On the other hand, the goal of a New Jersey criminal defense attorney is to create doubt. The prosecution’s case against you sounds good at first, but then your lawyer is able to punch some holes in it and the jury finds you not guilty.

What Should I Know About Reasonable Doubt and the Prosecution’s Case?

When a prosecutor builds their case, they are doing it to establish what happened “beyond a reasonable doubt.” We go with reasonable doubt instead of absolute doubt for a reason. Proving something beyond an absolute doubt, in most cases, would be incredibly difficult. It is not the prosecutor’s job to account for so many potential possibilities.

Instead, the prosecutor uses their evidence, their eyewitnesses, and anything else that they can to build a convincing case for a jury. A juror could look at the case presented to them and reasonably think that the prosecution has gotten this one right. They would be able to, with good conscience, say that the defendant is guilty.

Is It Possible to Create Reasonable Doubt in a Criminal Case?

This is where a skilled defense attorney comes in. They can take a look at the prosecution’s case and take it apart, no matter how realistic or convincing it seems. They can create reasonable doubt and make it impossible for a jury to vote to convict. A defense attorney does not need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that their client is innocent. They just need to make sure that a jury has some doubt when it comes to the case that the prosecution has presented them with.

There are a few smart ways for an attorney to do this. One way is presenting an alternate sequence of events. The prosecutor has said how they think things went. Well, now your defense attorney gets to use evidence and eyewitness accounts to show that there are other possibilities.

An attorney can also question the credibility of witnesses used by the prosecution. They will get the chance to cross-examine them and point out inconsistencies in their stories. They can also bring up things in a witness’ background that could affect their testimony against you. Are they a criminal? Do they bear some grudge against you? Could they be the one who actually committed the crime? Anything that can be used to sow doubt in the minds of jurors is fair game here.

Contact Our Law Firm

If you are facing serious criminal charges, you want to make sure that you have a qualified legal professional on your side. Contact the Law Offices of Mark S. Guralnick and learn more about what our law firm can do for you. We would be happy to schedule a consultation for you.

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