Beyond a reasonable doubt, that’s the burden of proof in our criminal justice system. It’s the highest burden of proof in our legal system altogether. A person can win a $1 million verdict with a preponderance of the evidence being the standard of proof, which is basically 51% sure.
In the criminal system, it’s a lot more than that. The stakes are higher. The Constitutional rights that are implicated here are much more important, and so the standard is just much, much higher. The jury instruction says that if you have an abiding conviction of guilt that does not waver or vacillate, then the state’s proven the case beyond a reasonable doubt.
However, often times what does waver and vacillate mean? What is an abiding conviction of guilt? Essentially, what the justices have said that if you have a reasonable doubt, it’s one that you can attach a reason to that would be something that other people would agree with or perhaps something that if you saw it, you knew it. If you had a reasonable doubt there then you would render a not guilty verdict. However again, it’s the highest burden that we have in the system and it’s a very important task for a juror to determine if it’s been proven to that level.
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