When somebody takes a case to trial in Los Angeles because they're charged with a crime and they believe they're innocent, a jury must find them guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in order for them to be convicted, sentenced and potentially put into custody by a Superior Court Judge in Los Angeles.
If the jury does not find them guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, then the person is either found not guilty or it's a hung jury – if all jurors can't agree – then the case can either be re-tried or dismissed, depending on the circumstances.
This is something that can be argued to the Judge by the criminal defense lawyer to try to get the case dismissed after a hung jury.
Closing Argument is at Trial in Los Angeles
of the last things I always tell jurors is in order to find my client guilty beyond a reasonable doubt you're going to have to have an abiding conviction of guilt.
That means that you're going to have to look back ten, twenty years from now and if you're going to find him guilty, you're going to have to say that he was found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt because if you have any doubt. That the doubt is reasonable as to his guilt – then you must find him or her not guilty.
This concept of an abiding conviction as it relates to reasonable doubt in a criminal case really hits home with jurors because a lot of times there's problems with cases and the prosecutors can't prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.
Just because someone's charged with a crime doesn't mean their guilty and that's one of the biggest things I talk about when I examine the jurors at the beginning of a case.
The concept of beyond a reasonable doubt – the concept of presumption of innocence and the concept that someone is not guilty just because they are charged – and anyone that thinks they're guilty because they are charged either needs to get that wiped out of their mind or shouldn't be sitting on a particular jury case.
High Standard of Finding Someone Guilty Beyond A Reasonable Doubt
This standard is not a preponderance, which basically says they have to find him guilty by 51%. This is higher than that.
This is where you look at everything, you weigh the evidence and there's a jury instruction that says after you weigh the evidence – if there's evidence on one side and evidence on the other side and you really can't tell which evidence is the strongest.
We call that the tie goes to the defendant jury instruction and the person should be found not guilty and I read that jury instruction in every single jury trial that I do.
Because a lot of times there is evidence on one side and there is evidence on the other side and you can't tell. If that's the case, the prosecutors have not proved their case beyond a reasonable doubt and the defendant should be found not guilty and let go.
So, this concept of finding somebody guilty beyond a reasonable doubt is a very important one in American justice and we have the best justice system in the world.
It's not perfect, but I make sure that the people in the state of California are really put to the task when it comes to the concept of finding somebody guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
I make a list in my closing arguments of the reasons that they did not find my client guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. I tell the jurors – listen, each one of these reasons by themselves shows that they did not find him or her guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
However, when you take them all together it is abundantly clear that the client is not guilty, the case has not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt, and these are the types of arguments that are going to have to be made when everything is on the line – when your freedoms on the line, your reputation, your record and your entire world sits on whether a jury finds you guilty or not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.