Indiana Judges Association (IJA) (2017)


Instruction No. 1.1500. Burden of Proof—Reasonable Doubt.

The burden is upon the State to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the Defendant is guilty of the crime(s) charged. It is a strict and heavy burden. The evidence must overcome any reasonable doubt concerning the Defendant’s guilt. But it does not mean that a Defendant’s guilt must be proved beyond all possible doubt.

A reasonable doubt is a fair, actual and logical doubt based upon reason and common sense. A reasonable doubt may arise either from the evidence or from a lack of evidence. Reasonable doubt exists when you are not firmly convinced of the Defendant’s guilt, after you have weighed and considered all the evidence.

A Defendant must not be convicted on suspicion or speculation. It is not enough for the State to show that the Defendant is probably guilty. On the other hand, there are very few things in this world that we know with absolute certainty. The State does not have to overcome every possible doubt.

The State must prove each element of the crime(s) by evidence that firmly convinces each of you and leaves no reasonable doubt. The proof must be so convincing that you can rely and act upon it in this matter of the highest importance.

If you find that there is a reasonable doubt that the Defendant is guilty of the crime(s), you must give the Defendant the benefit of that doubt and find the Defendant not guilty of the crime under consideration.