Under Texas Penal Code Section 2.01 “All persons are presumed to
be innocent and no person may be convicted of an offense unless each element
of the offense is proved beyond a reasonable doubt.” While many
people are familiar with the phrase beyond a reasonable doubt —
it appears in movies, TV shows, and novels — its meaning may be elusive.
Protecting the Presumption of Innocence
‘Beyond a reasonable doubt’ is the highest standard of evidence
that the prosecution must meet in order to prove the defendant’s
guilt. In the U.S., all people are innocent until proven guilty, and Texas
Penal Code Section 2.01 also states that “the fact that he has been
arrested, confined, or indicted for, or otherwise charged with, the offense
gives rise to no inference of guilt at his trial.” The reasonable
doubt burden is placed upon the prosecutor in an attempt to maintain the
presumption of innocence.
Preventing Wrongful Convictions
The standard is also in place to prevent people from being wrongly convicted
of a crime and suffering severe consequences. If the defendant is found
guilty of the alleged offense, they could be punished by fines and imprisonment.
Additionally, the conviction becomes part of their criminal record, which
could affect them long after they have served their sentence. For example,
a potential employer may decide not to hire the person or a landlord may
not rent out a home to them because they have a criminal background.
No Set Definition of Reasonable Doubt
Many states, such as Texas, do not directly define ‘beyond a reasonable
doubt’ to prevent the fact finder (the judge or jury) from being
influenced by a strict definition. Most often in jury cases, the jurors
are instructed to weigh the evidence to determine if it leads to the logical
conclusion that the defendant is guilty. If the fact finder cannot say
with moral certainty that the evidence proves the defendant’s guilt,
they must find the individual innocent.
Schedule a Free Consultation with Jerry Loftin & Associates
Although the defendant generally does not have to prove their innocence
in criminal cases, it is imperative to have an experienced attorney provide
skilled representation to challenge the evidence the prosecution presents.
Our lawyers have over 65 years of combined experience providing sound
counsel in various criminal cases, including
theft crimes, and
sex crimes, and we have an extensive understanding of the trial process. We will
leverage our knowledge and skill to build a solid defense to fight the
charges you are facing.
Call us today at (817) 429-2000, or
fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation.