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Reasonable Doubt

In California criminal cases, the prosecution must prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. This includes the DUI criminal case. The beyond a reasonable doubt standard of proof is the highest standard in the law. In a California Department of Motor Vehicles license suspension case, the DMV Hearing Officer must only prove its case by a preponderance of the evidence. The preponderance of the evidence standard means more likely than not. This legal standard can also be expressed as something more than fifty percent.

At the close of a DUI jury trial, the Judge instructs the jury on the law which applies to a particular case. The Judge will read the reasonable doubt instruction verbatim as it appears below, only modifying only the words which relate to the gender of the accused and the number of defendants (people charged) in a particular case. The attorneys for each side are given an opportunity to comment on their interpretation of the law.

The reasonable doubt jury instruction is read as follows:

I will now explain the presumption of innocence and the People's burden of proof. The defendant[s] (has/have) pleaded not guilty to the charge[s]. The fact that a criminal charge has been filed against the defendant[s] is not evidence that the charge is true. You must not be biased against the defendant[s] just because (he/she/they) (has/have) [been arrested, ]charged with a crime, or brought to trial.

A defendant in a criminal case is presumed to be innocent. This presumption requires that the People prove a defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Whenever I tell you the People must prove something, I mean they must prove it beyond a reasonable doubt [unless I specifically tell you otherwise].

Proof beyond a reasonable doubt is proof that leaves you with an abiding conviction that the charge is true. The evidence need not eliminate all possible doubt because everything in life is open to some possible or imaginary doubt.

In deciding whether the People have proved their case beyond a reasonable doubt, you must impartially compare and consider all the evidence that was received throughout the entire trial. Unless the evidence proves the defendant[s] guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, (he/she/they) (is/are) entitled to an acquittal and you must find (him/her/them) not guilty.

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Attorney Robert Tayac Puts a Long, Decorated Career to Work for You
  • Puts Over 20 Years of Experience Toward Your Case

  • Specialized Education in DUI Defense

  • Has Trained Other Attorneys in San Francisco

  • Former San Francisco Police Officer & Police Inspector

  • Certified by the SFPD on the Intoxilyzer 5000 Testing Device

  • Co-Authored the 4th Edition of California Drunk Driving Defense

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