The Beyond a Reasonable Doubt Standard in a Los Angeles Criminal Case

When a person has been charged with a criminal violation, the Prosecutor must demonstrate that the person is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, before they can be convicted. In a criminal case, each person has the right to a jury trial. The Jurors must then determine whether the Prosecutor has presented a case that allows them to believe that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

The legal definition of the standard of Beyond a Reasonable is met when no other logical explanation can be derived from the facts except that the defendant committed the crime, thereby overcoming the presumption that a person is innocent until proven guilty.

Anyone who is brought before the Criminal Justice System is presumed to be innocent and must be proven guilty. If it cannot be proven that they are guilty, they will be innocent and cannot be convicted of a crime. Guilt must be proven through the facts and evidence. The facts and evidence should be strong and in favor of the crime having been committed by the defendant with no other plausible explanation.

For example, let’s say Dan is charged with possession of a controlled substance. He was arrested at his home, where he lives alone with a search warrant. There were drugs in his bedroom drawer and in his kitchen. Dan is the only one who has the keys to his home. In this situation, the evidence introduced will be the actual drugs found, testimony as to where the drugs were found, and possibly evidence that Dan is the only who lives there and the only one with a key. All evidence points to the fact that the drugs must be Dan’s and were in his possession, as they were in an area controlled solely by Dan. In this situation, Dan may be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, since there seems to be no logical explanation other than the drugs being in Dan’s exclusive possession.

In comparison, let’s say that Dan goes to his Frank’s home to help paint the bedroom. While Dan is in the bedroom, officers come in with a warrant and find amounts of controlled substances in the living room, kitchen and bedroom. Frank is the one that lives at the home, Frank has a criminal record involving drug sales and use and is the only one who has a key to the home. The evidence does not point to Dan being in possession of the drugs. Arguments can be made that Dan knew nothing about the drugs and was merely on the premises to help Frank paint his house. In this situation, it is more difficult to prove Dan’s guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

The criminal standard is a tough one to prove. It is high and serves to protect an individual’s rights so that innocent people are not convicted of crimes. It is a lot higher than the civil standard. An experienced Southern California Criminal Defense Lawyer can prepare a powerful defense argument so that the evidence is doubted and doesn’t reach the level of the high standard.