Beyond Reasonable Doubt

All over the world innocent people occasionally end up in jail; even in the USA. That has to be so because most states in the US (about 29) have set guidelines on how to compensate those who did time for being innocent. It reminds me of a movie by Steven Seagal where he rather wants his life back in stead of being compensated financially.

Please note that I’m wading into unknown waters here because I am not a legal expert and what I know about legal procedures is basically what we see in American movies & TV series, and what we read in novels. I don’t know if things are the way that they are portrayed in these fictional and dramatized works. dunno

But back to ‘Beyond Reasonable Doubt’; exactly how does it work? confused

Can a person be found guilty ‘Beyond Reasonable Doubt’ on circumstantial evidence alone or does it require some tangible proof that he actually committed the crime?

Can the combination of a motive, an opportunity, and the means to commit a crime, coupled with no alibi, be enough to convict a person?

Surely he cannot be found guilty just because he could have done it; or can he? I’m sure if you look hard enough you will find several people who could have done it while there is no guarantee that any of them did it.doh

Sending an innocent man to jail will ultimately destroy his life. His career will be ruined; he will lose his house, his family, his car, his friends and everything else he had accumulated in his life. Then I did not even talk about the loss of future promotions in his now ruined career, the emotional strain, the loss of his dignity, the breach of his privacy, the defamation of his character, and the restraints on his freedom. Can a bit of money ever redress the actual damage that he had suffered? The US$ 50,000 per year compensation just seems a bit flimsy.shock

Even when finding an innocent man guilty of a petty crime, for a very short stint in jail or perhaps just a fine or a suspended sentence, it will ruin his future prospects for proper jobs or promotion opportunities. The stigma of a criminal record will endure for the rest of his life. stuck

I don’t even want think about a man getting executed before it is discovered that somebody else committed that crime. And what about being found guilty because of ‘evidence’ planted or ignored by a vindictive law enforcer? Don’t tell me it does not happen; there are too many over-worked cops who are only interested in closing the docket; to hell with justice.frustrated

I find this rather disturbing for I’d rather see a hundred criminals go free for lack of evidence regardless of what crimes they have committed before I see one person being convicted for something he or she did not do.sigh
cats meow cats meow

Comments (71)

This topic is far too serious and complicated for my feeble brain.

I can only handle topics like love, holidays, shopping...and of course sex blushing giggle

Just wanna say hello to you, Catfoot applause hug
Hi Mimi,
I never talk about sex in my blogs liar but I'll try to find something to say about it in my next blog - just to please youdevil - and I'll cross my fingers that the Mods won't see it.laugh
Good morning Cat..hug

Interesting topic. I'm afraid it's justice for you and seems to be the same all over the world.frustrated

Think of the movie Life of David Gale..which is a true story.
He wanted to prove that some innocent people were he got himself in jail for a crime he didn't commit and the proof of his innocence came out after his execution.
Yayyyyyy!!!! yay

I have a brilliant idea! lightbulb

Post that blog that has loads of sex element in it on this upcoming Christmas hols!

CS mods take time off on Christmas too, won't they? wink laugh
Hi Daniela,
Yes, that is sad. How can his family ever be compensated for such an error.sigh
I doubt it. I'd hate to get a suspension in my stocking. laugh

I've been sitting with a blog for a week now. Too scared to post it. laugh
Hello cat,wave The New age technology, (dna, fingerprints, security cameras everywhere....) beyond a reasonable doubt has been reached in most cases, but as you ve sited theres going to be exceptions . I find it sad when an innocent person is in jail for all the wrong reasons. And I find it much worse for criminals to not face justice,only to create more victims of their crimes.The victims of crime are the forgotten part of the vicious circle.
I don t think theres no perfect solution to not having innocent people being convicted, but I m hoping , maybe newer technology will take us there someday.
Hi 12121,
It's a very complex problem. You see, DNA and fingerprints at a murder scene is circumstantial. It only proofs that the person was there at some stage. Even if his prints are on the murder weapon it does not prove that he actually committed the murder. Even lie detectors are unreliable. some people can beat it without problems.

It will be nice if they could develop a kind of a mind probe to determine a person's guilt.idea
Good topic, and beyond reasonable doubt, in real life, is catching the perp in the act. Our odd warped reality means that a killer walks free on a technicality and an innocent man rots in jail for a crime he didn't commit.

Let the games begin, and may he with the best lawyer win

Scottish law allows for Not Proven - so a verdict is not just innocent, or guilty, when everyone knows he dun it but it can't be proved 'beyond reasonable doubt' so he walks, but is watched ...

However I do get peevish when someone says an innocent man died. I would be very surprised indeed if anyone who has ever been executed had led a blameless life right up to the minute of being accused. The police throughout the world may seize the wrong guy, but usually because they've been suspicious of him for a while anyway.

The tragedy is when they've watched him (or her) for being an enemy to the state rather than an enemy to the safety of the community. But usually, he (or she) is a bad un anyway.

A Scottish guy a couple of years back was returned to Scotland having served 18 years in prison in the US on Death Row for killing a 2 year-old. Turned out he hadn't, and he was released and told to go to Scotland. But the Scottish jubilation at getting this poor wronged guy back wore off a bit when we found out what we'd got.

JMO and welcome back

Hi Biff.

And it is sad that the best lawyer wins. We're looking for justice, not theatrics in the courtroom.doh

i don't think anybody is ever 'innocent' but for justice to prevail a criminal must be convicted for the crimes he committed. If a criminal manages to escape justice, it is not right to frame or otherwise incriminate him in another similar crime just because 'he deserves it'. He probably does but that is vengeance; not justice. When vengeance enters the fray, it opens the door for other evils. That is when cops decide who's guilty and start planting 'evidence' 'to incriminate or ignoring evidence that would exonerate.
And I'm not sure if I like a verdict of 'not proven'. An accused should be deemed innocent until proven guilty and if the state fails to do that he is innocent. If everybody 'knows' that he did it, what is that knowledge based on? Do they have the proof that the state did not have? If so, why was it not presented in court? If not, the accused is innocent.
Ah well, presenting evidence in court is all well and good but what do you do when the evidence is there, the witnesses saw the crime, but the lawyers argue that the policeman who made the arrest didn't word the warning exactly right? baddie, you are free to go, sorry for your trouble.

very mad

And although I also had to get my head around Not Proven, it has a real benefit for the victims. Okay, the bugger got away with it - but not without a stain on his character. He's not laughing all the way to freedom and at liberty to do the same again to someone else, and that has to mean something to the victim who not only suffered but had to relive it in court - and effectively the court said too bad, how sad.

Not Proven stays on your public record. Juries, by most legal standards, can't be told if the person on trial has a history. If he already has a Not Proven on his record, that IS on his record. It will never be an issue if he never again commits the crime, but it is allowable in evidence if he does. Yes it can create bias but I personally believe that not telling a jury that the, one example, rapist in front of them has been linked to several rapes before creates a bias in the opposite direction.

And continuing the rape example, how exactly do you think a rape victim feels when their rapist walks away from court smiling? They feel a bit better when, despite lots of lies, the court rules Not Proven.

Innocent until proven guilty is a huge comfort to the innocent, and cynically abused by chronic offenders with expensive lawyers.

Again, JMO dunno

But then I've been in court, hauled up on 5 charges which were a bloody farce - crimen injuria, reckless and dangerous driving, leaving the scene of an accident, assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest. It WAS a farce and the case was shown to be a farce and thrown straight out but it's as close to due process as I ever want to get. It was my word against 2 police officers and very scary indeed.
Hi Biff,
When evidence is disallowed because of a technical point, I blame the legal system. That is BS. very mad

Evidence is evidence and should be allowed regardless. If it was obtained illegally, like via a burglary, it should still be allowed BUT whoever obtained that evidence illegally should be prosecuted from a dizzy height.
Cat, that is one of the main reasons that I oppose the death sentence.
if only one innocent person is condemned to death, it is one person too many.

During the time of the Troubles in NI, there were many Irish people arrested in England for crimes they were innocent of. The most well-known of these were the Birmingham 6 and the Guilford 4.

The B6 spent 16 years in jail before they were found innocent and released, and the Guilford 4 also spent 15-16 years in prison unjustly. Their lives were ruined irrevocably . No money can compensate for that.
All for being of the wrong nationality in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Hi Molly
I think this is what Biff was referring to when she said "The tragedy is when they've watched him (or her) for being an enemy to the state." We had (and still have to a lesser extend) a lot of this here. It would seem that there is a different set of laws when they investigate and prosecute 'political crimes'. And they hide behind all kinds of 'security legislation' to bypass normal acceptable procedures..very mad
This sort of stuff has just been in the Brit papers, men accused of rape and s*xual crimes being released as pertinent evidence was withheld by the police, basically a single cop on both cases so far.

The two men are not guilty but have spent time in jail, lives ruined, The CPS have said they will look into dozens of cases now, but for those involved its too late.
Hi Map
I say that if an innocent person goes to jail because of 'evidence tampering' the person(s) responsible should sentenced to serving their victims' full sentences.very mad
Cat, Yes they should, but they get a slap on the wrist and probably get to retire on a full pension, I certainly miss the old days of 7.62 justice, but only when the accused was really guilty.
lately you're not even allowed to shoot a rabies dog. Apparently the pig is the only animal that may be summarily shot. Mind you, some pigs do walk on two legs. i wonder if it will hold up in court for then I have a few pigs to shoot. grin
Justice requires something more tangible than no smoke without fire although this is liable to change in an era of right-wing populism where liberal elites confuse you with the details. Wouldn't it be much cheaper and easier if justice was simply whatever you wanted to happen? And this is what capitalism has been building to these last 70 years. Consider the election of Donald Trump, at one time proudly displaying that you have no sense of right and wrong would have precluded you from office.
Hi Chesney,
And yet, he is there.

I would just like to see the word 'reasonable' taken away. After all, what is 'reasonable'? Is that not very relative or abstract. What is reasonable to one jury may not be reasonable at all to the next. The law should such that if several juries heard the same case, they should all reach the same verdict otherwise it is a farce.

The dictionary defines it as such:
1. having sound judgement; fair and sensible.
2. as much as is appropriate or fair; moderate.
3. right, not bad, tolerable, passable;
4. competitive;

Middle English: from Old French raisonable, suggested by Latin rationabilis ‘rational’, from ratio (see reason).

but it still does not define 'reasonable'.
I've no doubt that trial by Twitter will take over the present system roll eyes
Hi Molly,
I think I'll take my chances with the American system before Twitter gets hold of me.laugh \
The question is . How do you get all the jurors to come to the understanding of reasonable doubt? And to come to an agreement all at once.?
Hi Annlee,
That is exactly the point. I say get rid of the 'reasonable' and make it 'Beyond Doubt'. 'Reasonable' leaves too much for speculation and guessing. doh
Hello Cat, wave Back again, 6 40 Am here, minus 12, and minus 29 below windchill,doh We were talking about innocent people being sent to Jail, and it also has me thinking of criminals who by some quirk of fate never get convicted, or are given light sentences for some terrible crimes. Our legal here might not be perfect, but in a vast majority of cases it does work okay, and for that I m thankful. It is better than the alternitve of having no law and order.yay
Oh yeah Cat, You have a Merry Christmas,santa waving and a Happy New Year,cheers
Hi Catfoot wave This might be a little off the subject but what come to mind when reading your blog, and there is a lot to be said.

Public opinion, what ever happened to innocent till proven guilty, now it is or seems to be...guilty, hang them, then lets have the trial.

A innocent person could loose a lot of his life and things in his life, but with some of Public Opinion he could stay in there mind guilty the rest of his life.

Good blog my friend cheers
Cat, I don't know if beyond doubt is possible, even with existing technology
I doubt many guilty people, with a good lawyer, would be convicted if beyond doubt had to be established.
I think, once again, it is money which is the root of the problem.
it is mostly poor people in jail, guilty or not.
Rich people, or the state, can afford the better lawyers and thus innocent or guilty is only a by-the-way. So it is the whole system is wrong.
Is it that one juror have to convince another juror to arrive at the verdict beyond reasonable doubt?
To arrive at the verdict?
Hi 12121,
I'm not complaining about most of the time when it works. That's fine. I'm worried about the sometimes when it does not work.

It is easy to sacrifice the future of a stranger and to say it is for the greater benefit of the law that works most of the time... until it strikes closer to home.

What if you are the sacrificial goat; or a parent, a sibling, a child or even a friend?
That is another thing. Lawyers as well as the state's representatives get too much latitude in court. They should be limited to presenting the evidence as it is and to responsible cross questioning to reveal any lies in stead of attacking the characters of the witnesses to discredit them. They use too many emotional expletives to influence the jury. The jury should only be subjected to the facts. Emotions should play no part in reaching a verdict.
I believe that is what happens when they are confused by emotional speeches and representations. If they have only the facts of the case to consider, a verdict becomes easy.
Sorry 12121,
I did not mean to be rude; that was a slip up. Merry Xmas to you too.santa waving
Cat, your comments on lawyers criticizing character witnesses, ..... and their antics which bounce around the facts, are so true. Here lawyers bring up a suspects up bringing ,confused to help determine sentencing. The crime or lack of ,should be priority, and facts (evidence) or lack off should determine that. I could see some vindictive person turning a trial into a witch hunt,doh and an innocent person be prosecuted ,doh
Hi Wen,
I'm responding to you a bit out of sequence. I had a small distraction here and missed your comment when I came back.

Exactly, it says: Innocent until proven guilty, not innocent until proven beyond reasonable doubt. If only 'reasonable was a better defined and measurable word it may have worked fine.
hi 12121,
I think it is a disgrace the way some legals go on with the witnesses and I can understand why some witnesses are reluctant to step forward.

It is immaterial if the witness is a bus conductor, a pilot or a prostitute. what is important is what he or she has to say that can cast clarity on the case in session. sure, cross examination there must be but it must be relevant to the case it need not be an effort to discredit the witness.
..remember a uy here in No(r)way who had been sitting lots of years for a murder he didn`t commit...

-we talked about it at work, and I couldn`t help my self sugesting that now he could do one for free... some mixed reactiones on that one....uh oh laugh

cool wine
Hi Viking.
it has happened. I guy went in for almost fifteen years for murder. I fact, the man was not murdered at all. He just left quietly and made it look as if his wife's lover murdered him. When the first guy came out of jail he discovered that the fella was still alive, living in another city under another name. He sought him out, killed him and went to the police station and told them what he did. He was arrested, tried for the same murder but at a different date and he went back to jail.doh
...he really didn`t like that guy!laugh rolling on the floor laughing

...amasing how stupid and morbid life can be at times...doh

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