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What does ‘reasonable doubt’ really mean?

Here’s an explainer on the phrase ‘reasonable doubt’

A judge’s gavel sits on a judge’s desk.
Here’s an explainer on the phrase “reasonable doubt.”
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Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow Daybell were indicted Tuesday on charges of murder.

The couple were indicted on two counts of first-degree murder in connection with the deaths of Lori’s children, 17-year-old Tylee Ryan and 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow, as the Deseret News reported.

  • Prosecutors could seek the death penalty in the case. They have 60 days to determine if they want to pursue the death penalty.
  • To be convicted of murder and sentenced to prison, Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow Daybell would need to be found guilty of their crimes beyond “reasonable doubt.”

What does ‘reasonable doubt’ mean?

Well, according to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, it is “a doubt especially about the guilt of a criminal defendant that arises or remains upon fair and thorough consideration of the evidence or lack thereof.”

This is a major factor in most criminal cases, according to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary.

  • “Proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt is required for conviction of a criminal defendant,” according to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary. “A reasonable doubt exists when a factfinder cannot say with moral certainty that a person is guilty or a particular fact exists. It must be more than an imaginary doubt, and it is often defined judicially as such doubt as would cause a reasonable person to hesitate before acting in a matter of importance.”

According to the Cornell Law School, “reasonable doubt” is often considered “the legal burden of proof required to affirm a conviction in a criminal case.”

  • “In a criminal case, the prosecution bears the burden of proving that the defendant is guilty beyond all reasonable doubt. This means that the prosecution must convince the jury that there is no other reasonable explanation that can come from the evidence presented at trial,” according to Cornell Law School.