South Carolina Requests to Charge – Criminal (2018)


§ 1-5 Reasonable Doubt

The State has the burden of proving the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The State is required to prove every element of the charged offense by evidence which satisfies the jury of the guilt of the defendant beyond a reasonable doubt. The defendant is not required to prove his innocence. The burden of proof always remains upon the State of South Carolina to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

What is a reasonable doubt in the law? A reasonable doubt is the kind of doubt that would cause a reasonable person to hesitate to act.

The term “reasonable doubt” should be given its plain and ordinary meaning.

The State has the burden of proving the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Some of you may have served as jurors in civil cases where you were told that it is only necessary to prove the fact is more likely true than not, such as by the greater weight or preponderance of the evidence. In criminal cases, the State’s proof must be more powerful than that. It must be beyond a reasonable doubt.

Proof beyond a reasonable doubt is proof that leaves you firmly convinced of the defendant’s guilt. There are very few things in this world that we know with absolute certainty. In criminal cases, the law does not require proof that overcomes every possible doubt. The law does not require that.

If, based on your consideration of the evidence, you are firmly convinced that the defendant is guilty of the crime charged, you must find him guilty. If on the other hand you conclude there is a real possibility that he is not guilty, you must give the defendant the benefit of the doubt and find the defendant not guilty.