The Australian criminal justice system is based on a presumption of innocence. This means that a person who has been accused of a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt.
The ‘Beyond Reasonable Doubt’ Standard of Proof
To protect innocent people, the criminal justice system is based on the highest standard of proof – beyond reasonable doubt.
When all evidence is tendered into the court, the jury (or the judge in judge only trials) must determine whether the prosecution (usually the police prosecutor) has proven guilt beyond reasonable doubt before deciding whether the person is guilty or not guilty.
If, after the evidence is tendered, the jury has some doubt based on the presentation of evidence that the accused person was not the person that committed the crime, then it hasn’t been proven beyond reasonable doubt. The accused is then considered not guilty and is free to go.
Whereas, if the jury considers that upon the evidence presented upon them by the Prosecution that there is no doubt that the accused committed the crime and all members of the jury agree, then the accused is guilty and a fine or punishment is then considered by the judge.
What is considered reasonable doubt?
Reasonable doubt is doubt that the jury members entertain due to the circumstances in a particular case. They set their own reasonableness depending on the circumstances in a particular case.
Remember the importance of a criminal lawyer
In Australia, the prosecution carries the burden of the onus of proof. That means that they must provide the evidence to convince the jury beyond reasonable doubt that the accused person committed the crime.
Even though the prosecution have the burden of proof, if you or a family member are facing criminal charges, it is important to hire a criminal lawyer to defend against the charges and question the evidence presented.
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