What does being guilty of a criminal offence mean?

3. Understand proof beyond a reasonable doubt

To be found guilty of a crime, there must be proof that:

  • you did something against the law, and
  • you had a guilty state of mind when you broke the law.

It’s not enough for the judge or jury to believe you’re probably guilty. Proof beyond a reasonable doubt means proof that is close to an absolute certainty. If the judge or jury is sure you committed the crime based on the , that is enough. They have been satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that you’re guilty.

A reasonable doubt is based on common sense. If the judge or jury has any doubt and is not certain that you’re guilty after looking at the evidence, you must be acquitted.

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