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Definition of Reasonable Doubt; No Other Definition To Be Given To Juries

Las Vegas Criminal Attorney Nick Wooldridge Explains What Reasonable Doubt Means in Nevada – N.R.S. 175.211

Reasonable DoubtAnyone who has had any involvement with the U.S. criminal justice system understands that a prosecutor has the burden of proof. The presumption that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty is at the heart of the justice system in this country, and it ensures fairness so no innocent people are jailed. In order for someone to be convicted, a prosecutor has to convince a judge in a bench trial or a jury that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Any defendant who has been accused of a crime needs to know exactly what reasonable doubt means, and must explore different ways to introduce this doubt into the minds of the jury. Having an experienced Las Vegas defense lawyer is essential to trying to introduce doubt so you will know what questions to ask, what evidence to present, and what legal strategies to use.

LV Criminal Defense has a long track record of providing representation to clients in Nevada and we will work very hard to help you find ways to introduce doubt so you can be acquitted of the offenses with which you have been charged.

Defining Reasonable Doubt

Because the concept of reasonable doubt is so important in the criminal justice system, a definition of reasonable doubt must be provided under Nevada law. This definition is found within Title 14, which sets forth procedure in criminal cases. According to N.R.S. 175.211, a specific definition of reasonable doubt must be given to the jury during the course of the trial. No definition of reasonable doubt can be given to the jury by the court other than the one provided in this particular statute.

The definition of reasonable doubt according to N.R.S. 175.211 is “one based on reason.” The statute’s definition makes clear that simple possible doubt is not the definition, but instead the standard requires a level of doubt which would impact a person’s decisions in the “more weighty affairs of life.”

The language of the statute requires that the court to specifically tell the jury that: “If the minds of the jurors, after the entire comparison and consideration of all the evidence, are in such a condition that they can say they feel an abiding conviction of the truth of the charge, there is not a reasonable doubt. Doubt to be reasonable must be actual, not mere possibility or speculation.”

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How to Introduce Reasonable Doubt

Because the burden of proof is placed on the prosecutor, a defendant does not have to prove his or her innocence. If a defendant can make the jury question whether the prosecutor has actually proved each and every element of a criminal charge beyond a reasonable doubt, the jury should acquit the defendant rather than find the defendant guilty.

Defendants can sometimes raise affirmative defenses, such as arguing that an alleged assault was justified because the actions were taken in self defense. However, this isn’t necessary. If you can introduce testimony, provide information from expert witnesses, or ask pointed questions of a prosecutor’s witnesses that make a jury question the evidence of guilt, this is sufficient to defend against a guilty verdict.

In the case of DUI charges, for example, if you could make the jury question whether the blood test results were contaminated in testing your blood alcohol concentration, this would be good enough to plant the seed of doubt that should lead to an acquittal.

Getting Help from a Las Vegas Defense Lawyer

When you face serious criminal charges, you need to be proactive in building a strong defense to try to introduce reasonable doubt. LV Criminal Defense works hard to help defendants to secure acquittals by developing solid legal strategies at every phase of their case. Give us a call today to find out more.

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