Jury instruction for the Presumption of Innocence and the Burden of Proof

Jury instruction for the Presumption of Innocence and the Burden of Proof:

Now, let’s talk about two principles that are at the heart of our criminal justice system and I’m talking of course about the presumption of innocence and the burden of proof. Under our law anyone accused of a crime is presumed to be innocent. Thus, the Defendant appears before you with a clean slate with absolutely no evidence against him. And the presumption of innocence alone is sufficient to acquit, that is to have you conclude that he is not guilty unless of course the State can prove the basic facts necessary with respect to any particular crime by the standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Now, the State is not required to prove guilt beyond all possible doubt or to a mathematical certainty. That kind of proof is seldom, if ever, available in human affairs. The test before you today is the test of reasonable doubt. And a reasonable doubt is just exactly what the words imply. It is a doubt based upon reason and common sense. It is not a doubt that is based upon a¬†guess or surmise or bare possibility. It is a doubt which reasonable people, acting without bias or prejudice or interest and after having conscientiously weighed all of the evidence, would entertain as to the guilt of an accused. Said a little differently, to convict a person of a criminal offense the evidence must be sufficient to give you a conscientious belief that the charge is almost certainly true. Now, under our law the burden of proof always rests with the State to prove each element of the offense charged beyond any reasonable doubt. A defendant in any particular criminal case is not required to present evidence or testify. And no presumption or no discussion of the decision not to testify or not to present evidence, the jury should not engage in any consideration or discussion of that fact at all. Under our rules of law the State bears the burden of proof. No one, who is charged with a crime, has the burden of calling witnesses or presenting evidence or testifying. The defendant in this particular case has entered his pleas of not guilty and under our system of law he is presumed innocent and has no obligation to disprove the charges alleged in the indictment nor to affirmatively prove his innocence. He is not required to produce witnesses in order to establish his innocence but rather has an absolute right to require the State, which has charged him with these particular offenses, to prove that he is guilty of any particular offense by the standard of proof of beyond a reasonable doubt. In choosing not the testify he simply exercises a constitutional right given to all of us.

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