Louisiana Criminal Jury Instructions (2017)

§3:2 Burden of proof: presumption of innocence

The defendant is presumed to be innocent until each element of the crime necessary to constitute his guilt is proven beyond a reasonable doubt. The defendant is not required to prove that he is innocent. Thus, the defendant begins the trial with a clean slate.

The burden is upon the state to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In considering the evidence, you must give the defendant the benefit of every reasonable doubt arising out of the evidence or out of the lack of evidence. If you are not convinced of the guilt of the defendant beyond a reasonable doubt, you must find him [her] not guilty.


The instruction reminds the jury that a reasonable doubt may arise both from the evidence as well as from a lack of evidence. See State v. Mack, 403 So. 2d (La. 1981); State v. McDaniel, 410 So. 2d 754 (La. 1982).

Updated: 7/12/2017