WI WJIC 140 BURDEN OF PROOF AND PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE
Wisconsin Jury Instruction Criminal (WJIC)
BURDEN OF PROOF AND PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE; EVIDENCE
140BURDEN OF PROOF AND PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE
In reaching your verdict, examine the evidence with care and caution. Act with judgment, reason, and prudence.
Presumption of Innocence
Defendants are not required to prove their innocence. The law presumes every person charged with the commission of an offense to be innocent. This presumption requires a finding of not guilty unless in your deliberations, you find it is overcome by evidence which satisfies you beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty.
State’s Burden of Proof
The burden of establishing every fact necessary to constitute guilt is upon the State. Before you can return a verdict of guilty, the evidence must satisfy you beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty.
If you can reconcile the evidence upon any reasonable hypothesis consistent with the defendant’s innocence, you should do so and return a verdict of not guilty.
Meaning of Reasonable Doubt
The term “reasonable doubt” means a doubt based upon reason and common sense. It is a doubt for which a reason can be given, arising from a fair and rational consideration of the evidence or lack of evidence. It means such a doubt as would cause a person of ordinary prudence to pause or hesitate when called upon to act in the most important affairs of life.
A reasonable doubt is not a doubt which is based on mere guesswork or speculation. A doubt which arises merely from sympathy or from fear to return a verdict of guilt is not a reasonable doubt. A reasonable doubt is not a doubt such as may be used to escape the responsibility of a decision.
While it is your duty to give the defendant the benefit of every reasonable doubt, you are not to search for doubt. You are to search for the truth.