If you have ever watched a legal show on television, you have undoubtedly heard the phrase "beyond a reasonable doubt." Few people outside of the legal field actually know how important this phrase is to a defense after being charged with driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol.
A Georgia prosecutor has to prove that you are guilty of a criminal offense "beyond a reasonable doubt." If the prosecutor fails to prove his or her case by that legal standard, you are not guilty of a crime. With the help of an experienced Forsyth County DUI attorney, you can challenge the evidence to present reasonable doubt.
What Does "Beyond a Reasonable Doubt" Mean?
In a criminal case, a Georgia prosecutor must present enough evidence you committed the alleged crime to convince a jury or judge you, in fact, committed the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Reasonable doubt is subject to a variety of different exact definitions. Georgia provides specific language at jury trials to explain its definition.
The following explanation is from the Georgia Suggested Pattern Jury Instructions:
A reasonable doubt means just what it says. It is a doubt of a fair-minded, impartial juror honestly seeking the truth. It is a doubt based upon common sense and reason. It does not mean a vague or arbitrary doubt, but it is a doubt for which a reason can be given arising from a consideration of the evidence or lack of evidence, a conflict in the evidence, or any combination of these. There is no burden of proof upon the defendant whatsoever, and the burden never shifts to the defendant to prove his innocence.
If, after giving consideration to all of the facts and circumstances of this case, your minds are wavering, unsettled, or unsatisfied, then that is a doubt of the law, and you should acquit the defendant. But if no doubt exists in your minds about the guilt of the accused, then you will be authorized to convict the defendant. If the State fails to prove the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, it would be your duty to acquit the defendant.
One common misconception is that "beyond a reasonable doubt" and "beyond a shadow of a doubt" are the same. This is false. It is not that there can be no doubt, but only reasonable doubt. An experienced defense attorney can help the jury understand this definition in such a way to benefit you in your DUI case.
Presenting Reasonable Doubt
To present reasonable doubt, your defense attorney can:
- Challenge the results of the field sobriety tests
- Challenge the results of breath, blood, or urine test
- Suppress evidence which was illegally obtained, and/or
- Present evidence that shows you were not, in fact, intoxicated while driving.
Remember, if the jury cannot find beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the offense, you are not guilty.
Consult a Forsyth County DUI Attorney
If you have been arrested for DUI, challenging the evidence and facts of your case can create reasonable doubt in the mind of the jury. An experienced Forsyth County DUI attorney knows the law and how to defend your case. Contact us today for a free consultation.