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What Kind of Proof is Needed for a Conviction?

Outside of an evidence box

To be convicted of any crime, the prosecution must prove each and every element of the crime charged beyond a reasonable doubt.

Our law presumes that a criminal defendant is innocent of a crime. Thus, although someone is accused of committing a crime, that person begins a trial with a clean slate with no evidence against him or her. The presumption of innocence, standing alone, is sufficient to acquit. It is not until the criminal defendant’s guilt is proven beyond a reasonable doubt that a person can be convicted.

Reasonable doubt is one based upon reason and common sense – the kind of doubt that would make a reasonable person hesitate to act. Proof beyond a reasonable doubt, therefore, must be proof of such a convincing character that a reasonable person would not hesitate to rely and act upon it.

A person can never be convicted on mere suspicion or conjecture. The prosecution always has the burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.