Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

The standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt” is the cornerstone of our American criminal justice system.

Michigan Criminal Defense Attorneys - Group

Standard of Proof for a Criminal Conviction

Proof beyond a reasonable doubt is the standard of evidence required for a criminal conviction in most adversarial legal systems (such as the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States). Generally, the prosecution bears the burden of proof and is required to prove guilt by this standard.

The standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt” originated in the 1700s in England. For over 300 years, this standard has worked in most civilized societies. The media reaction to the Casey Anthony not guilty verdict was offensive. The media and their multiple talking heads, TV correspondents, and legal “experts” could be heard from Fox News to CNN to HLN ripping on the beyond a reasonable doubt standard. There was a mass outcry that the standard is too vague and lenient.

Implications of the “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt” Standard

Many “experts” and commentators completely missed the boat on this case and the lesson that can be learned from the verdict. In high media cases, juries historically hold the prosecution to a much higher burden. The 13th juror, also called the alternate juror, was interviewed on multiple media outlets and indicated that he agreed with the verdict. No matter who proposed alternative strengths in the prosecution’s case, the alternate juror gave comprehensive, well-thought-out reasons why he agreed with the verdict and why there was reasonable doubt.

In many cases, it can be argued that juries do not follow the beyond a reasonable doubt standard in everyday situations and merely convict when they believe the person is guilty, even if there is reasonable doubt. Perhaps juries only hold the prosecution to the BRD standard when there are cameras.

Attorney - Michigan - Awards

Wrongful Convictions Despite the BRD Standard of Proof

According to the Death Penalty Information Center, over 100 people have been found innocent and freed from DEATH ROW after being convicted by a jury beyond a reasonable doubt in the past seven (7) years. There is no way to tell how many people charged with capital murder have been acquitted at trial during that period, but you can be sure that the number is very, very small. According to a study done at Ohio State University, over 10,000 people are wrongfully convicted in the United States every year. Despite these shocking and disheartening statistics, I have not seen 1% of the time or energy spent on these issues compared to the past 24 hours of media attention on the Casey Anthony acquittal.

I regularly ask my potential jury pools in voir dire (questioning of the jury before the commencement of a jury trial) what is worse, one wrongfully convicted person or one wrongfully acquitted person. 95% agree that one wrongfully convicted person is the worst scenario.

The standard of beyond a reasonable doubt is not perfect. Still, before the media indirectly castrates the jury because of the acquittal by arguing that the BRD standard is vague or insufficient, they should spend some time thinking about the innocent people who have been convicted BRD and killed in the name of justice by way of the death penalty.

How can someone facing criminal charges protect themselves if the system is imperfect?

In an imperfect justice system where fears of wrongful convictions are valid, the most effective way to ensure a fair trial and protect one’s rights is to engage a highly skilled and respected criminal defense attorney. LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C., known for its depth of experience and formidable reputation in the legal community, stands as a beacon of advocacy for those who find themselves ensnared by the system’s complexities.

An experienced criminal defense lawyer is crucial not just for their understanding of the law, but for their ability to navigate the nuances of the justice system, challenge weak evidence, and articulate compelling arguments that safeguard the rights of the accused. The role of such a lawyer is multifaceted, encompassing the rigorous analysis of evidence, the strategic crafting of defense arguments, and the adept handling of courtroom dynamics.

Our attorneys are well-equipped to scrutinize the prosecution’s case for any potential flaws or procedural errors that could lead to wrongful convictions. They critically examine the evidence, questioning its validity and how it was obtained, thus ensuring that the standard of ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ is rigorously applied. Their proactive approach includes filing pre-trial motions to dismiss weak charges and negotiating with prosecutors to reduce charges, which can significantly alter the outcome of a case.

Moreover, LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C.’s attorneys understand that effective defense goes beyond legal strategy. It involves a personal commitment to the client, offering reassurance and support through what is often a stressful and daunting process. Their influence and respect within the legal community can also be pivotal in managing how prosecutors and judges perceive and handle a case.

Ultimately, when the stakes are high and the system seems daunting, the best defense is a legal team that understands the law and deeply understands how to work within—and when necessary, against—the system to protect their client’s rights. LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. offers that level of defense, striving to ensure each client receives a fair trial and the best possible outcome.

For anyone feeling vulnerable in the face of criminal charges, especially when they doubt the strength of the evidence against them, turning to a firm like LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. ensures their case is in capable hands.

Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney

Michigan Criminal Trial Lawyers

The attorneys with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. have decades of experience successfully defending clients facing felony and misdemeanor charges. We will do whatever it takes to protect and defend our clients, including ensuring the prosecutor follows the beyond a reasonable doubt standard of proof during a jury trial. If you call us for a free consultation, we will take the time to talk with you and collaborate to formulate a winning strategy.

Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete an online Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.

We will find a way to help you and, most importantly,
we are not afraid to win!

Contact Us - Michigan Criminal Defense Attorneys