Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

Understanding ‘Beyond a Reasonable Doubt’: A Brief Explanation

“Beyond a reasonable doubt” is the standard of proof in criminal trials.

What does Beyond a Reasonable Doubt mean?

It means that the evidence presented in court must be so strong and convincing that there is no other logical explanation for the events in question.

In Australia, this standard is used in all criminal trials and is intended to protect the rights of the accused. It’s actually just a fancy way of saying really, really sure.” 

When the judge and jury try to decide if the defendant is guilty, they need to be “really, really sure” that the defendant did it. They need to be so sure that there’s no other explanation for what happened. If there’s even a tiny bit of doubt, the defendant gets a “not guilty” verdict.

Is the standard different in civil trials?

It is important to note that the standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt” is higher than the standard that the Courts use in civil trials. This we know as the “balance of probabilities”.

That means that in a civil trial, the plaintiff only needs to prove that it is more likely than not that the defendant is liable for the claim.

If you face criminal charges, contact our lawyers today for a free consultation. We can provide you with advice on your legal options including your legal rights, possible defences and penalties. 

Click here to read our brief explainer on Understanding ‘Balance of probabilities’

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O’Brien Criminal & Civil Solicitors
p: 02 9261 4281
a: Level 4, 219-223 Castlereagh St,
Sydney NSW 2000

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