REASONABLE DOUBT IS ALIVE IN PIERCE COUNTY
Part of James F. Christnacht’s practice includes misdemeanor criminal defense and traffic matters. This past month he represented a defendant in a contested DUI jury trial. In a criminal matter the prosecution must prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. According to Washington law and the jury instruction, “A reasonable doubt is one for which a reason exists and may arise from the evidence or lack of evidence. It is such a doubt as would exist in the mind of a reasonable person after fully, fairly, and carefully considering all of the evidence or lack of evidence.” We should always keep in mind that a criminal charge is just an accusation. The filing of a charge is not evidence that the charge is true, and it is up to the court or jury to decide if the prosecution has proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt. The jury must fully, fairly, and carefully consider all evidence or lack of evidence in any and all cases which they must decide. As for civil matters, the plaintiff must prove their case by a preponderance of the evidence. Preponderance of the evidence means: more likely than not. An example would be that they would need to prove their case by 51 %. We are all familiar with the statement that a person is innocent until proven guilty. A prosecuting attorney has the burden of proving each and every element of the crime or each crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Of interest, the defendant does not have a burden of proving that a reasonable doubt exists. In my case the members of the jury had reasonable doubt and could not come to the unanimous verdict necessary to convict my client. They had four pages of questions which were unanswered. They jury was polled and the result was that they could not reach a unanimous verdict of either not guilty or guilty. As a direct result, the judge ordered that a mistrial had occurred in this case. A small victory for the rights of the individual.