“Beyond A Reasonable Doubt”


“Beyond A Reasonable Doubt”

Institution Affiliation:


The American judicial system must demonstratebeyond a sensible uncertainty that a suspect did a criminal act sincethe suspect faces confinement as well as loss of constitutionalrights thus, suspects remain guiltless until the prosecution provesthem guilt-ridden beyond any sensible doubt. In this regards, theprosecution must show that a criminal act was committed as well asdemonstrate the intention for the act. However, some criminalproceedings have not applied the concept as the discoursedemonstrates by assessing some criminal cases due to economicsectionalism and moral desecrations based on racial andsocio-economic status. Therefore, the discourse explores thefoundations of the concept as well as how it has failed to sufficewell due to the attrition of the statutory guarantees.

“Beyond a reasonable doubt”

Gabriel &amp Barski (2012) and Reynolds(2013) define the concept of “Beyond aReasonable Doubt” as the yardstick or standard that prosecution’sproof or evidence must meet in a criminal trial the jury or thejudge cannot develop any other rational clarification from thegathered particulars or evidences except that the suspect committedthe criminality. As such, the prosecutor stands the liability ofproof and must substantiate the description of events to thisyardstick, which means that the prosecutor’s suggestion must beestablished to the degree that there could not exist a “reasonabledoubt” in the awareness of a logical person that the respondent isguilty. As demonstrated above the concept refers to an evidence ofsuch a resounding character that one would be disposed of to trustand act upon without disinclination in the most significant ofaffairs. However, these proof do not mean outright certainty since acertain level of doubt can exist that cannot affect a logicalindividual’s credence concerning whether or not the respondent isguilty (Reynolds, 2013). In this regards,the discourse will evaluate the concept of “a reasonable doubt”in the American Judicial System by providing a body of literature aswell as judicial cases that have revolved around the concept.

Assessment of the concept: How it works and why itremains a dead document

The &quotDue Process&quot Passages of the “Fifth and FourteenthAmendments” of the Constitution contains the liability of proof andthe supposition of guiltlessness established on every suspect. Assuch, the state stands the liability of proving a defendant beyondany sensible hesitation in criminal proceedings as compelled in the“Due process” (Gabriel &amp Barski, 2012). In fact, in “Inre Winship”, the Supreme Court overruledthe theory that there exists only an unsubstantiated variance betweenthe dominance of the proof standard and the “beyond a reasonabledoubt” (Levesque, 2012). In theoccasion, the trial court indicated that the yardstick ofdemonstrating the culpability beyond a sensible doubt “plays adynamic part in the American system of criminal processes andproceedings.” It is a principal mechanism for lessening the hazardof verdicts resting on factual fault. The benchmark provides tangiblematerial for the conjecture of guiltless-that base `axiomatic andbasic` value whose `application lies in the substance of thedirection of American criminal law` (Reynolds, 2013 Bottoms &ampTankebe, 2012). In fact, a failure to include theconcept in criminal proceedings would place the accused at adisadvantage, a drawback amounting to an absence of basicimpartiality, if the jury could adjudge him or her guilty on thestrength of similar proof as would avail in a civil proceeding.

While a prosecutor must validate, the descriptionof events to this yardstick in every component of a crime, certainqueries of detail might require meeting only the dominance of theproof standard. For instance, Gabriel &amp Barski (2012) andLevesque (2012) asserts that whether law enforcershave violated an offender’s “Fourth Amendment” right to be atliberty of irrational searches and confiscations need not bedemonstrated “beyond a rational doubt.” However, the court hascontinually failed to elucidate a flawless yardstick thatwould allow people to give a perfect connotation to the concept.Neubauer &amp Fradella (2013) contend that in “Cage v. Louisiana”,the Law Court did assert that “reasonable doubt” which, whenexisting, would result in a verdict of not guilt-ridden, is somewhatless than “considerable doubt” and “serious indecision,” butthat “ethical certainty” is not obligatory to convict.

The Sixth Amendment holds that the jury, not thelaw court, defines culpability in a serious felonious case Neubauer&amp Fradella (2013). In addition, the “Dueprocess” decrees, “the jury decision mandated by the SixthAmendment is a jury outcome of guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”&nbsp&nbspInthe “Sullivan v. Louisiana,”the concept provides “tangible substance for the conjecture ofinnocence,” as demonstrated and lessens the risk of unfairconviction.&nbspIn “Sullivan v. Louisiana”, an offender in acriminal proceeding has the right to have the jury demonstrate his orher innocence since findings found by a judge cannot curedeficiencies in the jury’s outcome resulting in a court’s failureto instruct the jury to find an element in the crime that holds theconcept (Gabriel &amp Barski, 2012). Inthe case, the trial court failed to give appropriate guidelines tothe jury pertaining elements of the crime. Sullivan appealed aconstitutionally incorrect directive regarding the concept of “beyonda reasonable doubt” that the trial court offered in a seriouscriminal proceeding. Notwithstanding the directive, Sullivan lost theappeal since the court reigned that the fault was innocuous. However,Bottoms &amp Tankebe (2012) assert that the“America Supreme Court” approved certiorari to define if amistaken directive on the definition of “reasonable doubt” canresult in innocuous error ultimately ruling that the instruction ofthe Louisiana Court could not result in innocuous fault thus,denying a suspect the right to the concept was a structural faultthat required reversal.

Notwithstanding its acclaimed role, the benchmarkis problematical.&nbsp&nbspIn “Victor v. Nebraska,” thestandard demonstrated its problematic nature as it defies easyclarification”&nbsp(Shapiro, 2014 Neubauer &amp Fradella,2013).&nbspIn fact, theConstitution does not openlydemands that trial courts describe reasonable doubt only requiringthe trial courts to notify the jury of the State’s liability todemonstrate the perpetrator’s guilt. As such, trial courts havestruggled in clarifying the State’s liability. &nbspDrake &ampShea (2012) assert that the Supreme Court allegedin the “Cage v. Louisiana” that a jury directive that partlydefined “reasonable doubt,” as “such a hesitation as would giverise to a serious uncertainty,” and as “a definite considerabledoubt,” debased the Due Process Article.&nbspIn the case, thecourt clarified, “the words ‘substantial’ and ‘serious,’ asthey are usually understood, show a higher magnitude of doubt than ismandated for exoneration under the concept. The prosecution mustdemonstrate its case by more than a sheer dominance of the proof, yetnot essentially to an outright certainty.

In the “Cage v. Louisiana” the federal courtrejected directives containing the words “moral certainty” whenit was stated in regards to words describing “reasonable doubt”as something that would cultivate a “grave uncertainty and isactual considerable doubt” as shown above (Drake &amp Shea,2012 Shapiro, 2014). In stating so, the courtasserted that the use of the words might exaggerate the requiredmagnitude of uncertainty and obscure the jury.


The “Sullivan v. Louisiana” followed the Cagecase where the trial judge gave a denotation of “reasonable doubt”that bore identity to the one held unlawful in the Cage case. In thecase, the court restated Case’s verdict adding that Sullivan’sdirective repudiates the right to hearing by a jury. Drake &ampShea (2012) and Shapiro (2014) assert that in“Victor v. Nebraska” directives similar to those inSullivan and Cage cases confronted the court, but the court upheldthe directives. The court stated that the “appropriate question isnot whether the instruction could have been pragmatic in an unlawfulmanner, but whether there is a sensible probability that the jury didso execute the directive.” As the discourse demonstrates, theconcept has most times remained a dead document due to the erosion ofstatutory liberties, worldview of discoverer-of-actualities, partisanimpulses of the prosecution, the contribution of the media and thepolitical fraternity


Bottoms, A., &amp Tankebe, J. (2012). Beyond procedural justice: Adialogic approach to legitimacy in criminal justice.&nbspJ. Crim.L. &amp Criminology,&nbsp102, 119.

Cage v. Louisiana, 498 U.S. 39, 111 S. Ct. 328, 112 L. Ed. 2d339 (1990).

Drake, J. J., &amp Shea, P. (2012). Guilty Beyond a Vague andUncertain Doubt: Burdens of Proof Across Communities.

Gabriel, H. D., &amp Barski, K. A. (2012). Reasonable Doubt JuryInstructions: The Supreme Court Struggles to Live by ItsPrinciples.&nbspJournal of Civil Rights and EconomicDevelopment,&nbsp11(1), 5

In re Winship, 397 U.S. 358, 90 S. Ct. 1068, 25 L. Ed. 2d 368(1970).

Levesque, R. J. (2012). Burdens of Proof in Juvenile Courts.In&nbspEncyclopedia of Adolescence&nbsp(pp. 362-364).Springer US.

Neubauer, D., &amp Fradella, H. (2013).&nbspAmerica`s courts andthe criminal justice system. Cengage Learning.

Reynolds, C. (2013). Implicit Bias and the Problem of Certainty inthe Criminal Standard of Proof.&nbspLaw &amp Psychol. Rev.,&nbsp37,229.

Shapiro, B. J. (2014). `Beyond Reasonable Doubt`: The NeglectedEighteenth-Century Context.&nbspLaw and Humanities,&nbsp8(1),19-52.

Sullivan v. Louisiana, 508 U.S. 275, 113 S. Ct. 2078, 124 L.Ed. 2d 182 (1993).

Victor v. Nebraska, 511 U.S. 1, 114 S. Ct. 1239, 127 L. Ed. 2d583 (1994).

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