In the United States, criminal guilt must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. It seems like an obvious way to determine guilt, and it is at the core of the American legal system. By establishing the “reasonable doubt” standard, the burden of proof is placed on the prosecution and not the defendant. If you’ve been charged with a crime, the Howson Law Office will tell you not to say or do anything that may incriminate you.
A Definition of Reasonable Doubt
The primary issue with the reasonable doubt standard is that the definition is vague. Reasonable doubt is deemed to be the amount of doubt a reasonable person would hold, and the term “reasonable person” isn’t defined legally. There has been great debate on the federal, state and local levels about the definition of reasonable doubt, and whether its true meaning is captured in the vague definition.
Reasonable Doubt in Civil and Criminal Cases
Reasonable doubt is the standard upon which criminal guilt is based, but a civil case requires only a preponderance of evidence. This standard of judgment is more fair, being based on who has the more solid argument. However, a criminal trial doesn’t work that way; even if your argument isn’t very solid, the prosecution still has the burden of proof.
Your Lawyer’s Strategy
A criminal defense attorney’s job is to protect the rights of the client, and ensure that they receive a fair trial. By examining your case’s circumstances and determining the strength of the prosecution’s evidence, your lawyer will apply legal precedent to your situation, using it to form a strategy and to create reasonable doubt in the minds of the jurors.
In a criminal case where there is strong doubt as to the defendant’s guilt, an attorney can use that doubt to their client’s advantage. Where there isn’t enough evidence, a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Mount Vernon, WA can investigate to find hidden witnesses and evidence, as well as other factors that can strengthen a case.
The Pretrial and Trial Phases
Through discovery, investigations and legal motions during pretrial, a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Mount Vernon, WA can prepare your case. During the criminal trial, lawyers can use legal challenges, cross examination, questioning and the presentation of alternative theories to present evidence and raise a reasonable doubt as to guilt.