Burden of Proof

I know there has been a lot of commentary on the Zimmerman trial. In fact, I’m sure many people are tired of hearing about it, and ready for news of other things. But, I just can’t help writing my own short commentary on something I haven’t heard much about in the midst of all the hullabaloo.

The burden of proof in a criminal prosecution is beyond a reasonable doubt. I know we’ve all heard this a million times, but it’s worth reflecting on, not merely repeating verbatim. This is a HUGE burden, and it rests on the state. In this particular case, it means that if there was a reasonable doubt about whether George Zimmerman acted in self defense, he cannot be found guilty.

Think about it – if you’re unsure about who started the fight, or whether George Zimmerman was getting beat up when he shot, the law says the state has not met its burden.

Why does the law require the state to meet such a steep burden? Well, put yourself in George Zimmerman’s shoes. If you or a loved one were convicted a crime, would you want to be put in prison based on a probability that you did something wrong?

I didn’t think so.

And there exists the very reason for the beyond a reasonable doubt requirement – to make sure that the government does not take away a person’s liberty without being certain that the person is guilty. And that is a protection we can all be thankful for.

If you’re interested, David McElroy also wrote a good article on the Zimmerman verdict.

And now, I’m done with my two cents. 🙂


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