WV 4.12 PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE, REASONABLE DOUBT, BURDEN OF PROOF

WV 4.12 PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE, REASONABLE DOUBT, BURDEN OF PROOF

State: West Virginia

 

WEST VIRGINIA CRIMINAL JURY INSTRUCTIONS, 6th Edition (W.V.C.J.I.)

Part A. General Instructions.  Chapter IV. Final Charge.

WV  4.12 PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE, REASONABLE DOUBT, BURDEN OF PROOF

The Court instructs the jury that the law presumes a defendant to be innocent of crime. Thus, a defendant, although accused, begins the trial with a “clean slate” — with no evidence against him. And the law permits nothing but legal evidence presented before the jury to be considered in support of any charge against the accused. So the presumption of innocence alone is sufficient to acquit a defendant, unless the jurors are satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt of the defendant’s guilt after careful and impartial consideration of all the evidence in the case.

It is not required that the [State] prove guilt beyond all possible doubt. The test is one of reasonable doubt. A reasonable doubt is doubt 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.

The jury will remember that a defendant is never to be convicted on mere suspicion or conjecture. The burden is always upon the prosecution to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This burden never shifts to a defendant; for the law never imposes upon a defendant in a criminal case the burden or duty of calling any witnesses or producing any evidence.

So if the jury, after careful and impartial consideration of all the evidence in this case has a reasonable doubt that a defendant is guilty of the charge, it must acquit. If the jury views the evidence in the case as a reasonably permitting either of two conclusions- one of innocence, the other of guilt- the jury should of course adopt the conclusion of innocence.

By | 2013-01-18T10:31:44+00:00 January 18th, 2013|Comments Off on WV 4.12 PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE, REASONABLE DOUBT, BURDEN OF PROOF