What Is Reasonable Doubt?

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What Is Reasonable Doubt?

Before a defendant may be found guilty of any charges, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant had wronged him to a certain level. In criminal cases, the plaintiff must convince a judge and/or jury panel that the defendant has committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.

What Is Beyond a Reasonable Doubt?

In criminal cases, a defendant is not guilty until proven so. As such the threshold to prove someone’s guilt is beyond a reasonable doubt. In other words, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant was at the crime scene, the defendant committed the crime, and that there is no doubt that the defendant was the person who committed the crime.

The burden of proof is so high in criminal cases because the consequences are more serious that those in civil cases.

Reasonable Doubt for Civil Cases

In contrast, in civil courts, the plaintiff merely needs to prove that the accused committed the wrong by a preponderance of evidence. In other words, the accused had over a 50 percent chance of committing the wrong.


Imagine that you are on trial for manslaughter, and the plaintiff was only able to convince the jury panel that you had a 75% chance of committing the crime. Because the jury is 25% uncertain, the plaintiff was not successful in proving beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty. As a result, you cannot be convicted.

Consulting a Lawyer

If you are faced with a criminal trial, it is best to consult a criminal law lawyer. The criminal law lawyer will help you strategize and ensure that the opponent meet the difficult level of proof of beyond a reasonable doubt.

Consult a Lawyer - Present Your Case Now!
Last Modified: 10-08-2014 04:06 PM PDT

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