Guilty Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

Published by Jessica Burke on

For a Vermont criminal defendant to be convicted of a crime by a jury, the jury must unanimously find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

What does guilty beyond a reasonable doubt mean?

The Vermont Model Jury instructions define reasonable doubt as  follows: “A reasonable doubt is a doubt based on reason and common sense, which comes from a fair and rational consideration of the evidence or lack of evidence in the case.  It is not a vague, speculative, or imaginary doubt.  No defendant may be convicted on suspicion or conjecture.  If you have a reasonable doubt, you must find defendant not guilty even if you think that the charge is probably true.” For more information on understanding the Vermont Model Jury instructions as concept you may refer to our blog post.

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Jessica Burke

Jessica Burke is a licensed Vermont attorney and the founder of Burke Law. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Boston College in Political Science, and then received her law degree from Washington & Lee Law School. After law school she worked with several top law firms before settling in Vermont and building her own practice. In addition to being licensed to practice law in the state of Vermont, she also holds a State Bar certification in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, among others. She specializes in criminal defense, including DUI defense, homicides, and sex crimes.

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